U.S. employment numbers released last week from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed a net gain of 17,800 IT-related jobs in April, representing the 11th consecutive month of positive job growth across four primary IT labor segments in federal employment data.
But in a continuing pattern that suggests a significant shift to IT services industry employees of many technology jobs that businesses have traditionally filled with full-time in-house staff, 19,200 new jobs were added in the "Management and Technical Consulting Services" and "Computer Systems Design and Related Services" employment segments in April-7,000 more than in any month in more than four years.
Meanwhile, another 1,400 jobs were lost in the "Telecommunications and Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services" segments. Moreover, in the prior 12 months of federal jobs reports, 93,300 jobs have been added to the "Management and Technical Consulting Services" and "Computer Systems Design and Related Services" against losses of 41,400 jobs in the "Telecommunications and Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services" segment.
"The trend of employers no longer wishing to employ large numbers of their own full-timers in what are mostly pure technology IT jobs has been building steam over a very long period of time," said David Foote, CEO at IT analyst firm Foote Partners, which publishes national labor trend research reports. It's not something that just began with the popularity of cloud computing, managed services and offshore outsourcing, although certainly the widespread acceptance of these alternative source for skills has been a big factor in the acceleration of what we've been witnessing in the federal employment reports over the past several months."
Foote explained a combination of forces is driving this major workforce redefinition. By far the biggest force, he said, is that the role of IT in the enterprise is by now so pervasive that managing it is distributed throughout the enterprise. "Each group has to determine how to make the best use of information and technology to produce revenues and profits, build or protect market share, provide services, ensure satisfied customers, control costs, innovate solutions and generally to stay competitive," he said.
Meanwhile, CompTIA, a non-profit association for the IT industry, is encouraging its membership and the broader high-tech industry to aggressively seek their share of $240 million in newly launched federal grants available for job training programs. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on May 9 announced the availability of approximately $240 million through the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grants program competition.
Grants will be awarded to help workers update current job skills or acquire new skills so they can enter career pathways that lead to higher-paying jobs, including positions in IT. The Department of Labor expects to fund 75 to 100 grants.