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IT worker demand remains robust despite slow economy

By Fred O'Connor
June 10, 2011 04:23 PM ET

IDG News Service - U.S. tech hiring for the second half of 2011 will increase as the gradually improving economy results in companies updating their IT systems after scaling back during the recession, according to a hiring survey from technology job website Dice.com.

"Several years ago companies cut back pretty far, particularly in infrastructure and technology development," said Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America for Dice Holdings, who spoke about results from Dice.com's recent biannual hiring survey. "They're in a little bit of a state of catch-up ... in terms of their infrastructure and therefore the people they need in order to replace aging hardware and software and deal with security challenges."

To fill their ranks, 65% of the survey's 900 respondents, including hiring managers and recruiters, said they plan on hiring more tech workers in the second half of the year compared to the first six months.

This demand for IT staff means that employers are encountering a competitive marketplace for talent and explains why tech's unemployment rate is half of the national unemployment rate despite the still-improving economy, Silver said.

"The unemployment tech rate ... tends to be half the national average," he said. "So tech unemployment is around 4% versus the overall average, which is around 9%. So if one is a tech worker, while the market overall is not great, it continues to gradually improve for people with tech skills."

Of the skills employers are seeking, Java development ranked first among the survey's respondents. Survey data also showed that companies need .net developers and staff with experience in the nascent mobile space, which shows major growth potential.

Given the constantly changing state of programming languages, finding talented developers with current skills and relevant industry experience is always challenging, Silver said.

While Dice.com currently lists approximately 1,500 jobs requiring mobile skills, mobile's "growth [is] what's so incredible right now," said Silver. Those figures will probably increase in the coming months to approximately 2,000 or 3,000, compared to about 100 listings last year, he continued, adding that virtualization and cloud computing skills followed a similar trajectory.

With data breaches becoming a regular occurrence, Silver noted "a demand for people who have expertise in data security and network security. Companies are really looking to find people who can help make infrastructure more secure."

And finding the right people has proven more challenging, according to the survey. Compared to last year, 50% of the people polled noted an increase in the amount of time required to fill open positions. The inability to find qualified professionals is the main reason for the greater length of time, according to 63% of the poll's respondents. This represents an increase of 17% from the survey's November results.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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