Employee job satisfaction is front and center for Frank Ace, CIO of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Ace has a list a mile long of IT goals for 2007, from securing sensitive data to measuring the value of mobile devices for more employees to more efficiently managing the DOJ's growing web of technical support vendors. Right up there? "Keeping staff happy, trained and not overly stressed," Ace said.
CIO Moti Vyas plans to hire application engineers and IT security experts in 2007. In addition he's on the prowl for a "savvy communications executive assistant" who can promote his staff's achievements to the company. But his major staff initiative at Viejas Enterprises, a sprawling Indian-owned casino in San Diego, is hanging on to the talented employees already on the payroll. "Retention is big. Their bonus is tied to retention now," Vyas said.
CIOs cite business growth
A poll of 1,400 CIOs from U.S. companies by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm in Menlo Park, Calif., showed 16% of executives plan to add IT staff in the next three months while 2% predict staff decreases. The net 14% is the highest figure reported to the firm since fourth quarter 2001, and up four percentage points from the prior quarter's forecast. Business growth was the leading reason cited by CIOs for the additional hires, followed by a need for more customer and end-user IT support.
Other findings: Technology executives at the largest firms, those with 1,000 or more employees, will do the most hiring, forecasting a net 23% increase in staff. The transportation business leads the industry sectors in hiring, with 25% of CIOs planning to add employees and only 1% projecting staff reductions. As for the skills most in demand, expertise in Microsoft Windows administration is still a hot commodity, with 77% of CIOs planning to add personnel in that area. Nearly as many CIOs surveyed, 71%, also planned to hire network administration workers, and 63% cited a strong need for database administrators in Oracle, SQL Server and DB2.
Heller said: "I am seeing CIOs across all industries get budget approval for increased head count in IT, and that is an indicator that somebody out there and up there understands the value of IT."
The bulk of the hiring she sees in her practice is for positions "that sit at the intersection of business and technology." Program and project managers, business analysts and experts in enterprise architecture are in strong demand. "These are high-level experts, lead architects, the senior project managers, people who do not necessarily have staff reporting to them but are still compensated in the six figures," Heller said.
The widely perceived bias against older workers is also starting to subside, in the face of a diminishing IT talent pool, Heller said. "I see more and more companies willing to entertain hiring seasoned workers. Companies are recognizing that, 'Geez, we need these people.' I am also seeing people hiring from the business into IT," she said, pointing to a management IT search she is doing for a Fortune 500 company that lists business experience as a job requirement.
Heller's observations jibe with a recent report from Forrester Research, "Is There A Career Future in Enterprise IT." The study paints a complicated picture of the IT job market, showing an immediate need among companies for highly trained technology specialists as well as a growing belief among IT executives that "tech knowledge can be trained."
The paradox is that entry-level jobs at the enterprise level are hard to come by. Roughly 40% of IT executives interviewed by Forrester said they don't hire at the entry level, choosing instead to outsource commodity IT services. Of those who do hire at the entry level, however, 50% are hired from the ranks of college grads or MBA's, and only 27% of that group considered IT-specific majors a prerequisite for hiring.
Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer