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Despite Cuts, Opportunities for Tech Workers

"Despite Cuts, Opportunities for Tech Workers


Despite significant layoffs and rising unemployment in the dot-com industry, nearly a half a million information technology jobs could go unfilled this year for lack of just the right candidate, a new report says.

American companies will try to hire 900,000 information technology workers this year, but in 425,000 of those cases they simply will not find job-seekers with the needed skills and training, according to a report today by the Information Technology Association of America, an industry trade group based in Washington. The survey was based on telephone interviews with 685 managers in companies with at least 50 employees.

The study projects that demand for new information technology employees this year will be down 44 percent from last year, when the association found a demand for 1.6 million such workers and a shortfall of roughly 850,000. The decline in demand is attributable to the slowdown in the high-technology sector and general weakness in the economy.

But for the more nimble workers, the jobs are there. Over all in the United States, employment in information technology is up 4 percent from the year before, with 10.4 million people employed in information technology positions in 2001 compared with roughly 10 million in 2000. Those positions account for about 7 percent of total employment in the United States this year. Demand for information technology workers remains highest in the Midwest, followed by the West.

While the study showed that demand for workers remained relatively high, it also showed a major shift in the types of jobs employers are looking to fill. For example, demand for technical support personnel, long the strongest category by far, fell 65 percent, the study said.

"It's a derivative thing," said Harris N. Miller, the association's president. "When you see a slowdown of PC sales, there's a ripple effect in employment in things like tech support." Demand for technical writing workers is 73 percent lower this year from last year, while demand for digital media workers fell 62 percent. Likewise, demand for Web development workers was down 25 percent.

The emphasis this year is on the traditional information technology skills, like programming, software engineering and network design and administration. Demand for candidates in enterprise systems grew more than in any other category, for example, climbing 62 percent.

"At least for now," the report says, "the market seems to be signaling its preference for substance over flash." The changes in job categories appear to reflect an emphasis on tightening operations and justifying past technology investments, rather than staffing up in anticipation of new business.

Companies are hiring more cautiously this year as well, taking a "go-slow" approach. Mr. Harris pointed out that last year, employers showed greater willingness to consider candidates with technical training rather than general education. "This year, they're looking more to the traditional four-year college degree," he said."

<Note from JobFairy.com: There is no actual tech worker shortage. This is a myth concocted by the industry so that they can hire offshore and H1B labor.>

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