Recent IT employment reports deliver mixed messages
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
What’s the status of information technology (IT) jobs in the U.S.? It’s improving. Or, it’s getting worse. It depends on who you ask and depends on exactly what you ask. A handful of recent reports paint varying pictures of IT employment across the country.
A report from the TechServe Alliance reported the number of IT jobs crept up 0.04 percent in June, totaling more than 5.3 million.
On the other hand, a CompTIA report cited a drop of 90,000 IT jobs in June — the fourth consecutive month of declines, according to its findings. However, this study did find employment within information technology increased slightly. CompTIA added that the sector was responsible for creating almost 49,000 new jobs so far this year.
Similarly, the TechServe Alliance noted a 0.78 percent increase year-over-year in IT employment.
It’s one thing to look at what happened in June, but what, if anything, can we extrapolate about where employment in the sector is headed?
Another recent report, from Computer Economics, revealed that 46 percent of IT organizations plan to increase hiring, down from 49 percent who last year said they planned to increase staff. Thirty-eight percent of organizations polled expected no change in IT headcount, while 16 percent expected layoffs. That’s down from 20 percent in 2017 that expected layoffs.
A continual refrain from the sector is that a shortage of tech talent is causing underperformance. IT/tech has traditionally outperformed the growth rate of the overall workforce, so some of the recent trends have raised concerns. Still, CompTIA estimated the unemployment rate in IT occupations at just 1.9 percent, well ahead of the overall unemployment rate, which inched up to 4.0 percent in June.
"With an insufficient domestic talent supply and the ‘doubling down’ by the Administration on its restrictive immigration policies, the ability to attract and recruit IT professionals in high-demand skill sets who have many options will continue to be at a premium," TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts said in conjunction with his firm’s report.
The Computer Economics report further suggested that hiring for high-level skills positions is increasing. These positions include the likes of data analysts, project managers and cybersecurity experts. Positions considered as lower-level skills, such as tech support, showed a decrease in hiring.
The report also noted that IT professionals are becoming more productive, thanks to automation, virtualization and SaaS, which is likely contributing to the leveling of IT staffs.
"IT is becoming more ‘white collar’ instead of ‘ironic T-shirt,’" David Wagner, Computer Economics’ vice president of research, said. "Modern IT professionals need skills that allow them to work with the business to solve problems, not simply to maintain infrastructure."
Further details from the report account the largest portion of IT employment to application development, just ahead of management. Help desk and desktop support follow.
Backing the Computer Economics findings that opportunities are increasing for high-level talent, and encouraging for the sector, is that tech is leading finance in the push for business grads, according to a Bloomberg report that said IT/tech employers expect to add more MBA’s this year than last.
The research found an increasing share of MBAs from a cross section of notable schools are choosing careers in tech.
Regina Resnick, senior managing director at Columbia Business School’s Career Management Center, told Bloomberg that MBAs are flocking to tech because it is so embedded in the culture.
So, if any trend can be taken from recent data, it appears to be that high-level IT skills are in great demand and will continue to be so, though the overall number of opportunities available could be levelling out.
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