CIOs anticipate a rise in IT hiring in the first quarter of 2007, according to the IT Hiring and Skills Report released Dec. 11 by Robert Half Technology, a tech placement firm based in Menlo Park, Calif.
Sixteen percent of executives polled plan to add IT staff in the next three months and only 2 percent anticipate cutbacks. The expected net 14 percent hiring increase is the highest since the fourth quarter of 2001, and is up four percentage points from the previous quarters forecast.
CIOs cited a range of factors contributing to the anticipated increase in Q1 IT hiring. Thirty-five percent of CIOs reported business growth as the reason for the expected hiring increase, while 26 percent cited an increased demand for customer and/or user support professionals.
Twenty-one percent responded that the increased need for the installation or development of new enterprise-wide applications was a primary factor driving IT hiring.
"A low unemployment rate, combined with ongoing demand for highly skilled professionals, is resulting in a strong need for IT specialists at all levels," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology.
Technology executives at the largest firms (1,000 or more employees) forecast the most active hiring, with a 23 percent net increase in staffing levels.
Skill Set Demand
Allowing for multiple responses, Microsoft Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) continued to rank as the skill set most in demand, cited by 77 percent of CIOs surveyed.
Network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell) followed, according to 71 percent of respondents, as well as database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), cited by 63 percent of respondents.
CIOs in the East South Central region are most optimistic about upcoming hiring plans for the second consecutive quarter.
Twenty-four percent of IT executives anticipate hiring increases, while 2 percent forecast declines. This is 8 percentage points above the national average.
"The cost of doing business in the East South Central region is very affordable, and companies that are expanding or moving operations there are actively recruiting workers," Lee said.
"In many cases, skilled candidates are receiving multiple employment offers due to a competitive market."
Mid-Atlantic region CIOs anticipate a net 21 percent increase in hiring, followed by the Pacific and South Atlantic regions, tied at a net 16 percent increase.
The Mountain and West North Central U.S. regions expect the smallest increase in hiring, at net 5 and 7 percent increases respectively.
Detroit-area CIOs lead the way in hiring with a net 25 percent intending to hire in Q1 2007. Detroit is followed by Orlando (net 19 percent), Phoenix and Washington, D.C. (net 18 percent each), Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco Bay area and Houston (net 15 percent each), and Pittsburgh, Sacramento, St. Louis and Tampa (net 14 percent each).
Closer to the bottom of the list of net hiring were Seattle/Tacoma, Cincinnati and Atlanta (net 9 percent), Boston (net 8 percent), Chicago (net 7 percent), Charlotte and Indianapolis (net 6 percent) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (net 5 percent).
The transportation industry led all business sectors, with 25 percent of CIOs expecting to add personnel and 1 percent projecting staff reductions, resulting in a net 24 percent hiring increase, 10 points above the national average.
By industry, IT executives in the manufacturing sector forecast the second-highest hiring increases (at net 18 percent), followed by finance and insurance (net 16 percent) and professional services (net 15 percent).