Will Post-Recession IT Spending Lead to Jobs?
Hardware, software, Web design and cloud computing technologies are expected to be funded, but whether companies are actually hiring new positions for those technologies remains in question. Technology contract and consulting work was up in 2009 and is expected to grow in 2010.CIOs and CTOs plan to spend their budgets when the recession is over on the IT purchases they had to put on hold in 2009, according to a report by staffing company Robert Half Technology, which polled 1,400 technology decision makers. What areas will they spend in?
The largest single category of spending, at 37 percent, was just what you would expect it to be: hardware and software. Web design and virtualization tied at 16 percent, while social media came in at 9 percent. Internal collaboration technology tools garnered 12 percent; cloud computing spending is expected by 11 percent of technology executives polled.
IT spending projection studies for 2010 from Forrester and IDC have predicted an expansion of IT spending in 2010 after an abysmal 2009 dominated by slashed budgets and the loss of a sizable percentage of technology jobs. The question in terms of jobs now, however, is whether we are in a period of post-recession with jobless recovery. Depends which economist or chief financial officer you ask. There is also the question of whether an increase in spending on technology necessarily amounts to new jobs being created.
Earlier this week, eWEEK reported on news from AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and the University of North Carolina that showed a gloomy outlook on hiring and IT spending in 2010. Robert Half Technology's last IT Hiring and Skills Index showed 89 percent-an overwhelming majority of CIOs-keeping staffing levels flat. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed (23 percent) by AICPA said they are understaffed, but are not hiring because they are being cautious about the economy. It stands to reason that many industries cut deeply and could benefit from contract, consulting or freelance help.
"Companies will often bring in IT consultants to help manage a major upgrade or new system rollout where adding additional full-time staff isn't necessary," said John Reed, central district president for Robert Half Technology. "If the organization decides to add full-time staff once the project is complete, the consultants who helped manage the project already have a foot in the door ... Positions in network support and help desk will be needed to ensure rollouts go smoothly and end users are supported as they learn new systems and applications. IT security professionals will be needed to ensure organizations' data are safe, and to anticipate and correct any security issues that arise from these upgrades. It's also likely that Web developers will be needed as companies upgrade their Websites and add rich applications and user features."
Reed may be on to something regarding consulting and contracting work, analysis of government data from 2009 shows.
"The most robust job segment, Management and Technical Consulting Services, has gained a net 13,600 jobs in the first 11 months of 2009, with net job gains in four of the last five months," technology analyst David Foote of Foote Partners said in a December report.
Looking beyond contract work, Reed advised IT job seekers to reach deep into their networks and focus on finding about job openings before they go public.
"Job seekers should explore every route to uncover these opportunities. Networking both online and in person with professional contacts, colleagues, and friends and family can be a great way to learn about openings before a position is posted," Reed told eWEEK.