Which skill sets are
in demand?"> In that time, however, just 17 million new workers will enter the labor pool, he said. "Shortages of qualified workers are projected across many industries, including IT," Venator said. "The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for IT professionals will grow by nearly 50 percent by 2012, with more than 1.5 million new computer and IT-related job openings. But the U.S. will have only half that many qualified graduates due to the declining number of students enrolling in math and science courses."As for the potential of an economic downturn, hinted at by a recent surge in jobless claims as well as slowdown in the number of jobs added to the U.S. economy, most felt that although IT is not in the vulnerable position it was several years ago, it would still feel some effects."Even if we dont see a downturn economically, many IT professionals will be asked to do more with less and be asked to wear many hats on their project teams," Sean Ebner, vice president at Spherion, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., staffing and recruiting company. 3. Sustaining-Value Skill Sets When asked which skill sets are in continued demand, IT hiring professionals had a range of answers but nearly all agreed that that project management skills and security know-how had the biggest draw from prospective employers. "Its no secret that a high percentage of major technology initiatives frequently fail to reach their intended goals. More often than not, the problem isnt the technology, its the people," Venator said. "Project management skills can mean the difference between a project that is completed on time, on budget and generates expected returns; and one that spirals out of control, sucking up more money and time than intended and never delivering on what it promised." Melland puts his money on a blend of core technology skills coupled with specific, in-depth experience. "Among hot skill sets, we expect a continuation of 2006, in which it was the core technology areas such as networking specialists, database managers and information architects that really needed staff. Employers are looking for people who dont just walk in with the skill but have the been there, done that," said Melland. As technologies evolve, a greater emphasis is seen by many on technologists with more specific skills. Why its time to lose the snide IT attitude. Click here to read more. "The things that came out in the late 90s and the early part of the 2000 are becoming more specific. Right now, financial services, pharmaceuticals and biotech and technology product development are the three core markets for technologists," said Lazalotto. 4. Varying Certification Value 2006 was filled with reports of the devaluation of many IT professional certifications, a trend that does not appear to be abating in the coming year. "Weve seen a drop in the last four years in the recognition of the value of certifications. Theres been a shift to where recruiters are looking for specific experience in specific areas," said Melland. However, many argue that certain, specific certifications will always remain marketable. "Certifications in areas such as information storage, security, networking and project management are among those that are delivering the best return on investment, in the form of higher salaries," Melland said. Venator considers professional certifications a form of proof that an IT professional can do what their resume says they can. "Five years ago it was far easier to find a good-paying IT job. Now people who want to be in IT need an edge, a means of proving they can do the tasks assigned. Professional certifications are a step toward that proof," said Venator. Furthermore, many hiring managers consider the right certifications the ideal self-marketing tool. Next Page: H-1B still a hot button.