IT employment in 2010: A Q&A with Dan Cobb

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Posted by Joel Capperella

April 1, 2010

Last week on ReadWriteWeb, Abraham Hyatt wrote about the rapid job growth expected to occur across the technology sector in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1.4 million job openings for "computer specialists" (everyone from developers to database administrators) by the year 2018. It's expected to be the fastest growing job-market of any sector across the country.

I recently had a conversation with Dan Cobb, Yoh's IT specialist and Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, about his predictions for hiring and employment in the IT sector in 2010. Here's what he had to say:

Joel: Dan, what IT skills are going to be in the highest demand this year, and why?
Dan: Well, that's actually a pretty broad question. You're likely to see a resurgence of a lot of skills. That's really not a surprise, though, because up until last year, there had been such a huge detriment to the market, and IT really suffered. In the past 18 months, we've experienced a moratorium of baseline industry infrastructure upgrades. This is actually the same thing that happened during the crash of the early 2000s. When the economy is bad, the tech upgrades companies typically undergo every few years get pushed off a bit longer. But, from my experience, I think this is going to be the year that a lot of those "on-hold" upgrades get completed. When that happens, there will be high demand for network engineers, desktop technicians, etc.

Joel: What other trends will be driving demand of these skill sets?
Dan: One trend that I'm particularly excited about is the introduction of Microsoft's Windows 7. Sure, Windows XP came out not all that long ago, but it really wasn't that different from 2000. With 7, there is a significant change from XP, and I think you're going to see a lot of need for everything from hardware to software designs.

Likewise, enhancements in smart phone technology and the move from G3 to G4 are going to put substantial focus on telecom in terms of design and engineering as well as the development of platforms.

We'll also see a surge in the healthcare IT sector with the push toward electronic medical records (EMR), etc.

Joel: What types of companies will be hiring? Do you think larger corporations or small businesses will look for talent?
Dan: I think we're likely going to see it across the board, but the type of hiring will be different. The smaller companies were probably more directly affected by the downturn and may still be reeling from it, so look for it to be a little while longer before they start to make significant hires. When they are looking for new talent, it will likely be through contracting or short-term staffing, rather than permanent hiring. Once they test the waters and can be more confident that an upswing will continue, they'll likely roll into permanent hiring.

Meanwhile, larger companies will probably react much like they did following the bubble burst earlier this decade. I wouldn't be surprised to see a resurgence in direct hire placement in high-skill areas so that these companies can lock down top talent now rather than waiting for the escalatory growth to occur in the next few years.

Joel: When are you expecting this hiring to take place? And what regions will be most impacted?
Dan: We're already seeing upticks across the board, which tells us we're heading in the right direction. I think that by mid-summer we should have a good feel for the state of recovery that we're in. If we're still seeing incremental growth and hiring by this time, it's a good indication that it will continue throughout the remainder of the year.

In terms of specific regions, I think we'll continue to see an exodus of opportunity and skills from certain areas, for example, Detroit. I also think you'll see some areas rebound; New York and Washington, D.C. are likely to recover well. Also, all the legislation being pushed by the Federal government is likely to have a big impact on the staffing of government and government funded agencies.

Joel: Any final thoughts? What issues should hiring managers be aware of?
Dan: Without a doubt hiring managers need to pay attention to the role of 1099 workers. There is a lot of gray area in the classification and management of 1099 workers versus W2 contractors. Also, I'd recommend paying more attention to the exempt versus non-exempt standpoint. Another gray area exists here for IT because of overtime compensation. For both of these issues, make sure you're communicating with your legal team and making the classifications correctly. That's likely to help significantly in the long run.

Topics: Staff Management, HR Strategies

Hiring Managers Guide to IT Staffing


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