IT staffing is expected to remain solid heading into 2008. But the exuberant predictions of recent months appear to be fading.
In the latest polling from staffing firm Robert Half Technology (RHT), 13% of CIOs said they plan to add IT staff in the first quarter of 2008, while 3% intend to cut staff. The 10% net hiring increase trailed expectations from last quarter, when 12 % of CIOs planned to increase staff. Business growth was cited as the chief reason for adding staff (27%), followed by customer and end-user support (20%) and managing systems upgrades (19%).
"Historically, over the past two years our IT Hiring Index results have shown a high degree of optimism from CIOs. A 2% decline indicates a leveling off of that optimism but also points to a level of growth that is more sustainable," said Robert Half spokesperson Cameron Heffernan.
The RHT Hiring Index and Skills report is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees.
Given the slowing economy and a housing crisis that continues to rattle the financial sector, the status quo doesn't look so bad.
But when compared with the response from CIOs a year ago, the statistics suggest a decline in optimism about hiring. Then, 16% of executives polled by RHT said they planned to add IT staff in the new year, with 2% predicting cutbacks. That net 14% hiring increase in December 2006 represented the highest percentage of CIOs predicting IT job growth since 2001.
The slight pall on hiring also stands in contrast to a recent study by the Society of Information Management (SIM) showing the IT job market has not been so robust since the late 1990s. Indeed, the 122 companies polled by SIM listed recruiting and retaining qualified IT professionals as their No. 1 concern, bumping off that old bane of CIOs everywhere, business alignment.
Still, certain skills sets are in high demand, according to the RHT and other data. Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) topped the RHT list, with a whopping 74% of CIOs polled ranking it as the most sought-after skill set in their IT departments.
A mobile, widely distributed workforce continues to be a factor in IT investment. RHT's executive director, Katherine Spencer Lee, said companies are continuing to spend money on Web 2.0 development, wireless combinations and network security.
The November Dice Report found the overall tech job market still going strong, with close to 100,000 job postings on Dice.com at the start of the month. Oracle database expertise was the skill most in demand, with job postings reaching more than 20,000.
Meanwhile, according to the RHT report, the Mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania anticipate the greatest IT job growth, with a net 17% of CIOs there planning to increase staff. Web developers are in particular demand in this region, the polling showed. That was followed by Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, where 16% of CIOs expect to increase their IT staffs and none project cutbacks.
Let us know what you think about the story; email: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer