Weekly Word on the Street: U.S. Government Holds the Key

by Jim Staats | Jan 13, 2012

Takeaway of the week seems to be a rather clear theme, however coincidental, of U.S. government rallying cries on behalf of technology as the guiding light, whether it be in the form of research, education, cybersecurity or healthcare. Could this be a harbinger of better things to come for this sector of the job market in the still-formative year?


U.S. Gov’t Report: Fed Tech Ed Key to Compete

In another positive sign for those seeking employment in the technical sector, a new report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce targets deeper federal funding in technical education as a key to America’s future economic competitiveness.

The report, titled “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States,” highlights both the need for stronger investments in this industry’s research and education and how failure to do so has eroded the country’s competitive position today, according to Commerce department reporting on the release.

The study, done as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act signed into law one year ago, targets the importance of education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in spurring overall job growth.

As report findings indicate, success on a global economy scale will rely on government efforts to encourage students and workers to pursue training and education in those fields.


U.S. Defense Demands on Cloud Computing = Security Specialist Opportunities?

Continuing with the theme of U.S. government and technical capability fortunes being intertwined, a recent report notes that increased use of cloud computing by the U.S. Department of Defense - and accompanying ultra-high value placed on cybersecurity -could signal some openings for those equipped with the right skills and know-how to help keep everything “locked down properly.”

According to a recent article in Nextgov, Pentagon leaders note in an increasingly online environment where defense computers are tied to the cloud, the ability to have that environment locked down at a central location is of the utmost importance in securing the military’s information assets. Some of the departments cyber experts, the article notes, are expected to push for more layered controls of security for its hardware and software, such as requesting that data be encrypted in the cloud. A cloud vision among military leaders is of a common network infrastructure capable of spotting and blocking threats remotely for all technical assets.

“How do we create the next set of architecture that is more defensible and can ensure the integrity of our data? I think it’s in the cloud,” Gen. Keith Alexander, chief of U.S. Cyber Command, said this past October.

For that vision to become reality, officials in both the Pentagon and Web service providers must have a clear understanding of each other’s business needs.


Survey: Healthcare IT roles and salaries Remain, Well, Healthy

While rolling through ups and downs of the economic turbulence, health IT jobs - and the compensation that comes along with them - continue to be a growing force in the three years since legislation helped push healthcare providers toward a technical reckoning, a new study shows.

The recent compensation survey by HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) shows the average salary of a healthcare IT pro is $114,176, with roles ranging from hospital CIOs to associate staff health IT techs, according to a report in Becker’s Hospital Review.

Industry officials note the continuing change of the overall healthcare industry in the wake of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act signed into law in 2009. The legislation, insiders note, has helped hospitals, physicians and other providers become more fully vested in health IT and electronic health records.

Every level of the healthcare chain is increasing its health IT payroll in the face of continued reform, with technicians in that industry seeing an average salary increase of nearly five percent since 2009, survey findings note.

Geographic location does play a key part in salary levels, as the survey shows health IT specialists on the West Coast of the U.S. earning the highest of any region based on relative standard of living costs for the area.

What does the future hold for the still-developing tech sector? Might not need to look much further than the folks seen as the veritable lifeblood of the industry, officials suggest.

“What we’re starting to see is a lot of folks who were nurses are now in information technology, or nurse informatics,” said Bonnie Sermons, who serves as program manager and assistant professor of healthcare administration at Peirce College in Philadelphia. “They are potential CIOs of the future since they have a background in working with physicians and understand IT. That’s a slam dunk.”


IDC: More Than Billion Mobile Workers by 2015

Three years from now, the world’s mobile workforce will reach 1.3 billion, encompassing more than a third of all the globe’s workers, a new study predicts.

The number of mobile workers in the Americas (U.S., Canada and Latin America) will top 212 million by that same timeframe, but the biggest rise will come from the Asia-Pacific region, according to the recent forecast by IT analytics firm IDC.

A new eWeek article on the study notes that even as the employment market overall remains stagnant, online hiring continues to rise at a record pace since 2010.

People are taking advantage of this new sector to seek out independent careers built on online platforms, findings show.

The IDC study, titled “Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast,” indicates that companies, faced with a changing environment dominated by cloud computing, mobile apps and instant tech gratification, are more willing to seek out instant access to talent and run their businesses with greater flexibility.


Gov’t Review: U.S. IT Jobs Picture Rosy With Some Thorns

The IT job sector in the U.S. fared pretty well in the past year, but year-end findings leave some room for concern, a new government report shows.

In 2011, jobs in technical industries grew two percent to nearly return to pre-recession levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ year-end report.

However, when one delves down into the fourth quarter statistics, the report shows total IT employment dipped five percent, from 4.1 million to 3.9 million, a recent article in InformationWeek notes.

On the more big-picture positive side, the year-end report shows about 3.98 million people were employed in IT fields, a healthy number when compared to the 4.0 million IT pros employed in the more economically sunny days of 2008.

In 2009, the number of IT pros employed, based on report findings, had dropped to 3.78 million. In InformationWeek’s own 2012 outlook survey, conducted this past October, one-fourth of companies surveyed said IT staffs would be expanded this year, while more than a third planed to fill open IT positions. However, 30 percent of the firms that took part in the survey expected to continue an ongoing hiring freeze.

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