CIO Zone IT hiring expected to rise in 2012

Networking skills are the most in demand

Patrick Thibodeau (Computerworld (US)) - IT hiring expected to rise in 2012 - The IT job market in 2012 shows some signs of improvement when it comes to hiring , but most companies still aren't expanding.

Robert Half Technologies, a national recruiting firm that has been conducting quarterly hiring surveys of CIOs since 1995, said a net 10% of those companies surveyed plan to expand their IT departments next quarter.

"That is the biggest net increase that we've seen in the last eight quarters," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. About 1,400 CIOs were interviewed for the survey, released Wednesday, and of that number, 20% said they plan expand their IT shops. However, 10% plan cutbacks, for a net gain of 10% in hiring.

But Victor Janulaitis, the CEO of Janco Associates, which will release its year-end survey of IT managers in mid-January, said he expects his survey to show employers holding back on hiring -- except in a few regional markets.

"Companies do not know what is going to be happening, and everybody has their brakes on," said Janulaitis.

With Robert Half showing only a 10% net gain in hiring, Janulaitis said it's possible the two firms may not be far apart in their assessments.

Robert Half's forecast for next quarter is still well below the relatively healthier pre-recession years. In December, 2006, for instance, that survey reported a net 14% increase in hiring, with only 2% of the responding firms cutting back.

The survey also reported that network administration skills are in the most demand . Network admin skills were cited by 57% of those surveyed. Windows administration and desktop support followed, at 56%.

Among the vertical industries, retail expects to do the most hiring, with 17% planning to expand their IT departments. Manufacturing was next, at 11%, according to Robert Half Technologies survey.

Reed said companies are seeing a lot of competition for IT professionals because of increased demand, but also because of a "lost generation" of computer science graduates that followed the bust.

Computer science enrollments halved in the years immediately after that downturn, and have only begun to turn upward again in the last few years.

Although a TechServe Alliance analysis of U.S. Department of Labor data shows a steady rise in IT hiring , the Labor data reflects what is going on in IT firms. The Robert Half data surveys firms outside the IT industry.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld.

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