Volatility in IT Job Market Points to Skills Grab Over New Hires

By Don E. Sears  |  Posted 2010-04-30

The technology job market is rife with enigmas in 2010. 

The recession had most companies cost-cutting last year and no department in corporate America was spared. It was unavoidable. Yet, as the dust settled on budgets for 2010, companies were shifting the way they hired technology workers away from permanent placement to hiring skills on-demand, according to IT research analyst firm Foote Partners in a recent quarterly report on the state of technology skills and hiring. 
While tech workers have always been used to having to gain new skills to stay marketable, the rapid pace of change and business priorities are causing workers to stay on top of trends like never before and companies are readily adopting more flexible staffing models with an emphasis on skills. Why get locked in with an individual when you can essentially rent the skills you need on a contract or outsourced basis? It's not new for the industry, but the levels to which it is being adopted is what has these analysts witnessing.

"What the recession has done is get them [IT managers] 'unstuck' and motivated. Whether it is career opportunism driving it or the opposite -- fear of losing their jobs - the result has been more willingness by IT managers to take on the challenge of constructing these new workforce and service delivery models," said David Foote, Foote Partners CEO and Chief Research Officer, in an April 22 statement. "The enormous volatility we're seeing in the skills marketplace is a sure sign that employers are taking advantage of a rare window of opportunity to think through and execute on the new staffing models."

What does this mean for IT workers? Well, for one, you should be researching and networking with managed services, cloud computing and other outsourcing companies for potential jobs. 

"Managed services is a $33 billion market globally, projected to double by 2013," said Foote. "It's not too difficult to see how the recession has contributed to decisions to direct money to managed services and private and public cloud computing. With speed of execution a prime directive, hiring full time employers simply takes too long. No IT executive or manager wants to get in the way of predictable execution of projects and initiatives."

Additionally, pay close attention to where the demand is and keep those skills updated in the right areas. Over the first three months of 2010, four areas of IT grabbed the attention of the Foote Partner analysts as being the most in demand. Based on the input of 2,000 companies it consistently surveys, hot skill areas for the first quarter included application development, SAP, operating systems and process, methodology and management (as in business analysts). 

"Employers aren't hiring because it's a lengthy process to find and process new hires, the additional overhead per new hire is a tough sell to management in a recession-to-recovery scenario, and the marketplace is too brutally competitive right now to give competitors the advantage of more lead time," asserted Foote. "Speed to market with the right product or service is critical in an economic recovery. It may take several tries to get it right, which is why labor force agility is key." 

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