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Will there be a jobless recovery for IT in 2011?

Carolyn Duffy Marsan | Jan. 3, 2011
Will there be a jobless recovery for IT in 2011?

It's possible that support for legacy systems will go offshore. In a recent survey of CIOs that he conducted for the Society for Information Management (SIM), Luftman found that offshore outsourcing is expected to increase from 5% of IT budgets in 2010 to 7% of IT budgets next year.

"That's a big jump," Luftman says. "I think part of it is that organizations are not finding the talent they are looking for and are willing to go offshore...There are Cobol people in India, and they are ready to support a legacy application."

Luftman advises IT professionals to build up technical skills in such areas as business intelligence, virtualization, cloud computing, enterprise resource planning and information security because that's where he sees the most demand in coming years.

But Luftman also points out that in year-after-year of surveys he conducts, CIOs continue to emphasize business skills over technical skills.

"They're looking for management skills, industry-specific skills, communications skills, marketing skills, presentation skills and negotiation skills," Luftman says. "These are all just as important as companies look to hire people."

IT hiring remains sluggish because of outsourcing and offshoring, asserts Janco Associates, a consulting firm. The firm reported that total employment in IT rose only 0.17% in November 2010 compared to a year ago.

"It is a jobless recovery for IT because of two things," explains Janco Associates CEO Victor Janulaitis. "IT organizations are not in a hiring mode...and we have companies outsourcing a lot of lower-level and entry-level jobs. Unless you're somebody who has prior experience or lots of contacts, it's very, very difficult to find a job."

Janulaitis says companies are outsourcing more technical work, in such areas as managed IP services such as VoIP and VPNs. In addition, companies are hiring contractors for desktop, helpdesk and security services, and they are preparing to put more applications in cloud computing environments.

"It's the grimmest of the grim for telecom and network infrastructure specialists," Janulaitis says. "This is an area that people have outsourced or eliminated in a lot of organizations."

One bright spot that Janulaitis sees is increasing demand for experienced application developers.

"If you can develop applications with HTML5, if you know how to integrate data and create customer service applications, those skills are in demand," Janulaitis says. "The skills that are not in demand are running a data center, running a communications center or running a help desk."

Janulaitis sees continued demand for IT people with business skills, such as project management and risk management. He also sees job opportunities with contractors and for hourly or project-based work.


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