Server and network administration, help desk and application development skills are in demand, while the need for new hires is greatest in the East South Central and Mountain States.
Thirteen percent of CIOs plan to increase their IT staff in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to a survey released Sept. 20 by Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professional services.
Three percent of CIOs anticipate cutbacks, giving a net 10 percent hiring increase in Q4, as forecast in Q3, but up 2 percentage points from Q2.
The leading factor driving the need for more IT personnel is business growth, cited by 40 percent of respondents. Increased customer support came in second, cited by 23 percent, followed by ERP (enterprise resource planning) installation and systems upgrades, chosen by 10 percent.
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"Ongoing competition for IT professionals, particularly those with hard-to-find skill sets and specialized expertise, is prompting many companies to devote greater resources to recruitment and retention efforts," Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, based in Menlo Park, Calif., said in a statement.
Twenty-three percent of respondents said they were looking to hire help desk and end-user support professionals, followed by 18 percent seeking networking professionals and 12 percent looking for application development specialists.
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The CIOs most optimistic about hiring in the fourth quarter were in the East South Central and Mountain states, followed by those in the Pacific and Middle Atlantic regions. A net of 22 percent East South Central CIOs expected to increase their headcounts in Q4.
"Many companies have been moving into the East South Central region to take advantage of the lower cost of doing business and are actively recruiting employees," Lee said. "Firms that have recently invested in hardware and software upgrades now require long-term support for their systems, which is creating demand for help desk professionals, network engineers and network security staff."
The construction industry expects the strongest IT employment gains, forecasting a 34 percent net increase, followed by business and professional services (net 14 percent each). At the low end, the transportation industry showed only a net 1 percent increase.
Among skill sets in greatest demand in IT departments, Microsoft Windows (Server 2000/2003) administration came in first among 80 percent of CIOs surveyed, followed closely by network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell) chosen by 79 percent. Database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2) came in first for 71 percent of CIOs.
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