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When the going gets tough, the tough get going: IT recruitment in 2009

MIS Asia Staff | Jan. 16, 2009
Eric Lauzon, CIO, Nortel Asia, shares his views on the employment trends of 2009

From your enterprise's perspective, how has the current financial turmoil effected senior IT employment, recruiting and salaries in this region?

We have been anticipating a slowdown since 2007, and Nortels IT department has been transforming itself since. Measures such as reducing our IT budget has helped place us ahead of the curve during current financial turmoil. For now, we have put on hold external hiring and reviewing salary increases for 2009 in most offices around Asia.

What do you believe will be the overall 2009 outlook for IT recruitment, employment and salaries in the Asia pacific? Are there any specific countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China) where you see the situation as being better/worse than others?

In 2009, we believe that IT recruitment will see a slowdown in most markets. Some markets such as China and India will likely still see some solid salary increases, although at a lower rate than in previous years. For example, the double digit percentage wage increases in China and India will be rare in 2009. Markets such as India will have to cope with job losses in the IT sector, something the market has not experienced before.

How would you describe the current IT industry employment environment for senior execs in comparison to last year? When was this environment similar in recent times?

Unsurprisingly, the market now is a lot more cautious on hiring senior IT executives, and I expect this trend to continue for the next 6-12 months. The last time that I saw such an uncertain environment was during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

What 2009 strategies does your enterprise plan to adopt relating to IT employment to cope with the current downturn?

In Nortel, our strategy is to continue to reduce the number of applications used in the company and centralize our data centers to reduce our operational IT spending.  Plans for additional IT staff in 2009 have been put on hold.

How difficult will it be in 2009 for senior IT people in the Asia Pacific region to find employment and which particular industry sectors are likely to be the toughest? How will your industry sector be affected?

As companies become more cautious in increasing their headcount, we will see more internal promotion of staff, instead of hiring externally.  As such, it will be more challenging for senior IT executives in the region seeking employment in 2009.  We will see some sectors such as banking, insurance and retail industries more affected in the coming year than others.

What would be the top three messages that have come from your feedback on IT recruitment and salaries in the AP region in 2009?


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