The first quarter of 2010 will see some minor IT hiring increases, but also a small amount of IT job loss, according to a Robert Half Technology study released Dec. 1. Of 1,400 CIOs surveyed, 7 percent said they expect an increase in hiring, while 4 percent expect to reduce staff for a net gain of 3 percent in favor of hiring.
Some might characterize that as small potatoes in 2009's sea of cost-cutting, but as RHT pointed out, it's one of the most positive forecasts of new jobs the industry has seen since the first quarter of 2009. Why the spurt in hiring? Increased workloads and expectations for increased projects that are being budgeted now, said the report.
The sector expected to see the largest gains in project and hiring activity is health care IT.
"After months of slow hiring activity, managers are beginning the year with new budgets and appear ready to carefully expand their IT departments," Dave Willmer, executive director of RHT, said in a statement. "Many firms are investing in technologies that improve efficiency and competitiveness, and there has been demand for additional professionals to implement these projects."
What level of technology jobs are expected to be hired for? CIOs want to hire entry-level workers (41 percent) and experienced staff levels of two to five years (40 percent), and about 20 percent said they are looking for senior staff.
In terms of confidence in project funding, 42 percent of CIOs polled expressed greater than moderate confidence, with 23 percent expressing the highest ranking of confidence. Some of the skill areas in greatest demand are network administration, security, help desk support and Windows administration-areas of IT that have been consistently in demand in 2009, according to RHT's report.
In a recent report from outsourcing specialist The Hackett Group, the areas of help desk support and other back-office administration functions are expected to see continued job loss in the United States as global companies find cheaper labor offshore, but application development and application maintenance are also considered at-risk jobs, according to Hackett.
"As companies focus on application rationalization, people who develop and maintain software are also at risk here," Hackett Global IT Practice Leader Honorio Padron said to eWEEK. "There's a real acceleration in companies' move to decommission existing applications and consolidate applications with similar functions."
Regionally speaking, the biggest gains in first-quarter hiring will occur in the East North Central and South Atlantic states with increases at 8 percent, which is "five points higher than the national average," RHT said in a statement. Application development of enterprise systems within health care is expected to rise more deeply in 2010, with 22 percent of CIOs seeing project increases in that sector and 55 percent of those polled saying they have a high degree of confidence in health care IT projects being funded.
"The health services sector, for instance, needs IT talent to manage the conversion to electronic medical records," Willmer said.