Stimulus could create thousands of IT jobs

A federal economic stimulus package expected early this year from the administration of President-elect Barack Obama should boost the job prospects of IT professionals.

Katherine McGuire, vice president of government relations at the Business Software Alliance, said Obama's "pro-tech agenda" could increase the number of technology jobs in the U.S. by 10%, adding about 300,000 high-paying IT positions, she said.

While IT isn't the lone source of high-skills jobs, McGuire said that Obama "is right to seek incentives for innovation and growth across the entire economy, which in turn will spur growth in the IT sector."

Robert McGovern, CEO of McLean, Va.-based JobFox Inc., which runs a careers Web site, agreed that if the package provides the hundreds of millions of dollars in funding expected, hundreds of thousands of IT jobs could be created.

He suggested that IT workers should try to show employers how their skills could be used on projects likely to be aided by stimulus funds.

For example, McGovern said, construction companies and engineering firms overseeing infrastructure upgrade projects need tech workers with strong computer-aided design and telecommunications skills. And companies creating alternative energy systems or modernizing health care processes need people with expertise in bioinformatics, information security or software development.

Regulatory mandates could also lead to the creation of new jobs for tech workers who have related systems integration and Web skills, McGovern added.

"Target your job search in those directions," he suggested.

The companies will probably fill the positions quickly after the funding is approved, he added. "What employers need more than anything is confidence. They have the open positions, but they are reluctant to fill them," McGovern said.

Even without a stimulus package, the jobs outlook in IT for 2009 is better than that of many other industries, said David Foote CEO of Vero Beach, Fla.-based Foote Partners LLC, which analyzes IT wages and hiring data.

"IT jobs are relatively safe in the aftermath of the economic meltdown," he said.

The IT job market is stable, Foote said, "because a lot has happened to show businesses that IT is really our edge."

According to Foote, some of the hottest areas for jobs over the next two years will be business analysis, financial and human resources applications, program management, and application development.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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