IT Job Market Expected to Pick Up in Q4

Chief information officers (CIOs) in the United States anticipate a net 15 percent increase in the hiring of IT professionals in the fourth quarter of 2001, according to data from RHI Consulting’s Information Technology Hiring Index. Eighteen percent of executives surveyed said their firms plan to add IT personnel in the last three months of the year, while 3 percent expect staff reductions. The net increase in projected hiring activity is up three percentage points from the previous quarter’s forecast.

The national poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by RHI Consulting.

“While companies do not appear to be undertaking as many large-scale IT initiatives in the current economic climate, they are investing in smaller projects to maximize their existing information systems,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of RHI Consulting. “Businesses are seeking experienced professionals in such areas as network and database administration who can assess their firms’ ongoing technology needs and recommend cost-effective solutions.”

Lee also said that the anticipated fourth-quarter spike in IT hiring may be the result of companies having cut staff levels too deeply in recent months.

CIOs in the South Atlantic states forecast particularly strong hiring activity through the remainder of 2001, according to RHI. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of executives plan to expand their IT departments and just 1 percent anticipate personnel cutbacks, for a net 26 percent hiring increase — 11 points above the national average.

“Expanding industries such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare continue to require skilled technical staff,” Lee said. “There is heightened demand in the region for experienced networking professionals as well as Internet security experts who can assist companies in safeguarding data and systems.”

IT Specialties Most in Demand
Networking 24%
Internet/intranet development 18%
Help desk/end-user support 15%
Data/database management 12%
Applications development 12%
Project management 7%
Systems analysis 3%
Other/don’t know 9%
Source: RHI Consulting

Technology executives in the mid-Atlantic states also forecast solid employment gains in the fourth quarter. One-quarter of CIOs plan to add IT personnel and 5 percent expect staff cutbacks, for a net 20 percent hiring increase. Staffing activity is also forecast to exceed the national average in the East South Central region, where executives anticipate a net hiring increase of 19 percent.

The finance, insurance and real estate sector should see the most active technology hiring in the next three months, according to the survey. Twenty-five percent of CIOs plan to add IT staff and 4 percent expect personnel reductions, for a net hiring increase of 21 percent. The professional services and wholesale industries are also expected to see employment growth above the national average: Technology executives in the professional services sector project a net hiring increase of 20 percent, while CIOs in the wholesale industry foresee a net 18 percent increase in hiring activity.

In a July report by RHI, CIOs rated networking as the nation’s hottest IT specialty. The semiannual RHI Consulting Hot Jobs Report, found that demand for networking professionals remains strong, with the category receiving 24 percent of the vote when CIOs were asked which IT specialties were most in demand. Internet/intranet development was identified as the second most requested job skill, receiving 18 percent of the survey response. Help desk/end-user support ranked third with 15 percent.

One specialty gaining momentum according to the survey is database management — 12 percent of CIOs said this is their leading area of job growth, up from 9 percent six months ago.

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