The majority of the news around technology employment has been weak or negative lately. But there does appear to be one small nugget of good news in the U.S. government's recent data: Tech consulting services are up.
There are a few ways to look at this, but before dissecting, here is what Foote Partners--an IT research and management consultancy company--recently presented in a news release (.pdf) on the matter:
""National unemployment reached 9.4 percent with another 345,000 jobs lost in May, and certainly some of those are technology professionals," notes David Foote, CEO of IT work force analyst firm Foote Partners. "But it's important to note the continuing counter trending evident in bellwether IT job segments like technical consulting services, which actually added 2,300 jobs in April and May instead of the other way around. Also communications equipment jobs which fall under the employment category Computer and Electronics Products. This segment has had a net increase of 200 jobs over the last three months.""
Ok, this is good to hear, but then there is this:
"Not so lucky were tech workers in the computer systems design and related services jobs segment, which lost 2,800 jobs last month, and the data processing and hosting services segment, with 3,500 fewer jobs."
Ouch. That hurts. Foote's conclusion?
""Clearly, job security is more about **where** you work in IT, not **if** you work in IT. But most important, IT remains one of the best career choices a person can make. Technology companies will most likely lead us out of this recession much like they did the last time.""
Does the small nugget of positive information outweigh the larger, more troubling news that there are less full time with benefits opportunities out there for many people in IT?
It does not outweigh, but it reflects where we are in 2009: Adjust, adapt and make lemonade out of lemony opportunities.
According to Foote Partners' report, there was a big gain in technology consulting services and management in January 2009, to the tune of 11,000 jobs gained. But then there were two straight months of decline (a loss of 10,900 in February and March).
That's a wash.
The news that consulting is making a comeback--though at a much slower pace than in January--is encouraging, but not wholeheartedly positive. The Dice Report (from the IT job board Dice) for June shows that 81 percent of its IT professional survey respondents have had to scale back hiring plans because of the economy, and 65 percent say that "caution related to the economy" has been a major factor as to why jobs are taking much longer to fill.
The rise in consulting services would tend to show that people who have been downsized are going out on their own. Rather than necessarily switch careers, some are becoming their own boss and finding work that will get them through the next year or so until the right, full-time-with-benefits opportunity comes their way. There will inevitably be some who will love consulting enough to stay at it for the long haul.
I've posted on this before and will continue to write about it: Is technology consulting and contracting for you?