Weekly Word on the Street: Conflicting Reports on IT Job Market

by Jim Staats | Jul 20, 2012
Takeaway of the week is it's hard to know who, or what, to trust. The future is bright for the IT job market. No, it's not. Oh yes, it is. Wait, maybe some of it is sunny and other parts are cloudy. No wonder the weather reporter always takes a beating from the public.

Survey Says: Sunny Days for IT Job Seekers

If you're equipped with IT training and in need of employment, consider yourself luckier than most job seekers, according to a new survey.

More than half of the respondents to CareerBuilder's IT mid-year job forecast plan to fill IT positions before the end of the year, a CNET News item on report findings notes.

Though that figure represents a 1 percent decrease from the prior year, this particular hiring sector is much stronger than other industries, analysis from the employment firm suggests.

"Despite a small slowdown in hiring year-over-year, the IT sector remains strong, with an ever-growing need for strong talent in this area," said CareerBuilder executive Ben Jablow.

"With IT employers planning to hire in numbers more than 10 percentage points above the national average, the second half of 2012 promises a pattern of steady growth for the industry."

Other figures of interest:
  1. Seventy-eight percent of employers say they will fill IT slots before roles in other departments.
  2. Forty-three percent of IT hiring managers report current open positions are unfilled for lack of qualified candidates.
  3. Forty-six percent of IT employers hired full-time staffers in the second quarter of 2012, just down a tick from 48 percent at the same time last year.
The nationwide survey consisted of 180 hiring managers and human resource professionals.

More Firms Make IT A Global Venture

It's a small world after all, especially when it comes to IT operations.

That's the refrain more globally active businesses big and not-so-big are singing today while engineering their IT processing around centralized hubs.

With end goals including savings, competitive advantage and economies of scale, companies are consolidating IT business services worldwide for value and consistency, a recent CFOWorld article reports.

Companies such as Proctor & Gamble that have ramped up in this direction are finding that such big-picture positives must balance the need for regional processes, insiders say.

"No matter where you are in the cycle, you should be targeting global business services," said Forrester Research analyst Bobby Cameron.

Proctor & Gamble's global shared IT services is the result of a decade-long process that began by consolidating core IT infrastructure and ERP systems.

P&G executive Filippo Passerini said the firm has cut its IT costs by a third and saved $1 billion over the past nine years.

Other firms taking the plunge include the Vanguard Group, Bank of America and Equifax.

An IT Job Market Full of Contradictions

Job openings are up. Jobs are hard to fill. The market is hot. The market is ice cold.

When all everyone wants to know is definitive black and white answers on the IT job market, it seems to be more shades of gray

Employers aren't making it easy on themselves with expectation for IT superstars while the few that meet such high-level criteria are the focus of a hiring frenzy that leaves those just out of school or entering the industry in their wake, according to a new Computerworld article.

Those at the center of the IT hiring boom these days are professionals with trendy skill sets including mobile app development.

"We're always looking for the most skilled people, the most talented people, who are capable of inventing the future, not just doing the same old type of work that's become a commodity - fixing code, testing code that someone else wrote, that someone else invented," said Michael Beckley, an executive at Appian, which provides business process management software.

Beckley said his firm has hired 40 people so far this year, with plans to hire another 60 before the year wraps up. He said the type of people they look for are ones who've built an app available in Apple's App Store or received rave reviews for a contribution to an open-source code base — in other words, exceptional performers.

Figures tracking the IT labor force are even inconsistent in their reporting, with conflicting figures feeding the analysis.

According to Foote Partners, the U.S. saw a net gain of 8,200 IT jobs last month compared to the prior month. While at Janco Associates, the figure for that same calculation came to only 3,400 jobs in IT.
Seems the only thing analysts can agree on is that it's a difficult market for job seekers right now.

Report: Tech Layoffs on the Rise

One can be excused for a slight bout of motion sickness from reading the reports on the state of tech sector these days, apparently.

One report says it's up, the next says it's down, then up, then down, then up again.

See what we mean? Sit down if you need to.

The latest item to bring things crashing down is the surprising news that 2012 layoffs to date in the tech world have reached the highest level in three years, a new report shows.

The 51,529 planned job cuts the first half of this year in the technical sector represents a 260 percent increase over the 14,308 layoffs planned during the same timespan last year, according to a CNET News item on findings of the report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

A big chunk of that, of course, comes wrapped in Hewlett-Packard's announcement in May that it planned to cut 30,000 jobs, to be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.

Report findings point to the fact that while a few companies are finding success, the majority continue to struggle to remain viable. More cuts can be expected in the coming months.

"While consumers and businesses are spending more on technology, the spending appears to favor a handful of companies," said Challenger CEO John Challenger. "Those that are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing trends and consumer tastes are shuffling workers to new projects or laying them off altogether."

A silver lining: indications were that jobs are still to be had across the industry, mainly for those in mobile app development and big data.

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