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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?

"A lot of organizations are still on hold. They're not going to hire anybody. They're not going to add IT capabilities unless it creates additional revenue or improves productivity," Janulaitis says. "The issue I think for people who are out of work is that the likelihood of them finding full-time employment is very, very slim. The likelihood of finding part-time work is greater."

No, There isn't a Jobless Recovery for IT

Outplacement leader Challenger, Gray & Christmas has issued some of the gloomiest U.S. unemployment reports in recent months. Yet CEO John Challenger is optimistic about the tech sector's prospects in 2011.

"Tech is doing better than the rest of the economy," Challenger says. "For many other sectors in the economy, the tech spend is up. They have a lot of cash on their balance sheets and on their books, and they can start investing back in themselves after two or three years of being in survival mode. They've let their tech investments lapse, so they're starting to spend more again, which means newer systems and newer technology. And they need people to bring it up and integrate it and solve issues that come up. That's creating more demand for tech workers."

Challenger says he is seeing companies grow their IT workforces, and that they're looking for experts who can integrate the latest technologies - particularly mobile devices and applications - into the enterprise.

The hottest skills in demand are "what is new," Challenger says. "Tech workers have to constantly keep learning the new technology and help companies utilize it."

Challenger has a positive outlook for technology despite heavy job cuts reported in November. The outplacement firm said U.S. companies announced plans to reduce their payrolls by 48,711 jobs in November, the highest level in eight months.

Nonetheless, Challenger, Gray & Christmas points out that employers have announced 60% less job cuts in 2010 compared to 2009: roughly 500,000 compared to 1.2 million a year ago.

The biggest cuts right now are occurring in state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations, and that's expected to continue in 2011.

"The private sector went into this recession from a job standpoint in 2008 and 2009," Challenger says. "The government is just going into this recession now from a job standpoint, and who knows how long that will last."

Challenger points out that it's been a rocky recovery in 2010, but that he feels like the economy is picking up steam. His biggest worry is that the unemployment rate is still hovering around 9% nationwide."There are a lot of people out of work...That's one of the most stubborn and difficult after-effects of this recession that has occurred, and that's making recovery suspect," Challenger says. "As more jobs are created, more people will try to get back in the workforce, which is another thing that will keep the unemployment rate high."


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