By Theresa Minton-Eversole
Robust during the first half of 2013, hiring in the information technology and engineering sectors slowed down considerably in the last quarter of the year, according to data recently released by two trade groups. And Robert Half Technology’s most recent hiring forecast indicates the slowdown might continue into the new year.
Although there have been 28 months of consecutive IT job growth, the IT industry added 3,200 jobs in November, 3,100 in October and 6,100 in September—well off the hiring gains posted earlier in 2013—reported TechServe Alliance, a nonprofit trade association for the IT and engineering staffing industry. The total IT employment base is now 4.5 million, up 180,200 jobs this year, according to the association.
“While demand for IT professionals and engineers remains relatively robust, the rate of employment growth for both groups has continued to slow,” said TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts in a Nov. 22 media statement about the industries’ hiring during the last half of 2013. “The deceleration is no doubt attributable at least in part to the government shutdown for more than half of the month of October, which precipitated an atmosphere of uncertainty within the business community.”
And the IT job situation is unlikely to improve, Victor Janulaitis, CEO of management consulting firm Janco Associates Inc., told Computerworld, “especially once a new round of government-mandated cuts [and] sequestration hits the defense industry.”
“I think the recovery is on spotty ground at this point in time," he added, noting that chief information officers (CIOs) are becoming more cautious when it comes to hiring.
Indeed, in a recent Robert Half Technology survey, IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report, only 16 percent of U.S. CIOs said they plan to expand their IT teams in the first half of 2014. And while 67 percent will hire only for current IT vacancies, 15 percent are putting hiring plans on hold, the survey revealed. In addition, 2 percent expect to reduce their IT staffing levels in the first six months of next year.
The Robert Half hiring projections are based on an average of two CIO surveys conducted in the second and third quarters of 2013 that asked about hiring plans for the next three months. The 2014 projections are based on interviews with more than 2,300 CIOs from 23 major U.S. markets who were asked to provide a six-month hiring outlook.
"We continue to see strong demand for IT professionals across the United States," said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Professionals with skills in mobile applications development, data analytics and networking are in especially high demand."
But in terms of recruiting, 63 percent of respondents said it's somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals, particularly talent in the functional areas of networking (17 percent), security (14 percent) and help desk/technical support (13 percent). Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed said network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT department. Windows administration and desktop support followed, at 51 percent each.
Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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