The IT hiring conundrum

IT hiring forecasts show lots of jobs going unfilled despite growing unemployment rate

Research from ISC-squared and Robert Half Technology shows that companies continue to seek high-tech talent for open IT jobs, but not always successfully.

CIOs and security executives looking to add IT staff in the coming months report they are challenged to fill positions, despite the recession and unemployment statistics (Where the IT jobs are: 10 American cities).

Survey data from ISC-squared and Robert Half Technology shows that hiring managers continue to try to fill IT positions, and in some cases, without a lot of success. According to Robert Half Technology’s third-quarter hiring survey of 1,400 CIOs, 8% plan to add IT staff, while 6% are expecting to cut back personnel. The majority, 85%, intend to maintain current staff levels.

“Companies are adding staff at a steady but moderate pace,” said David Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Managers are watching budgets closely and concentrating hiring activity on customer-facing roles such as help desk and desktop support.”

Close to three-quarters of CIOs reported that network administration, both LAN and WAN, skills were in demand, about 70% indicated they needed desktop support skills and 68% listed Windows administration as the most in demand skills in their IT departments now. Sixteen percent of CIOs indicated that networking was the job area experiencing the most growth, followed by help desk and technical support with 15% of CIOs seeing growth in those areas. Just over 10% of CIOs said application development is an area experiencing growth.

Separate survey data from ISC-squared shows that of the more than 2,800 professionals worldwide polled 44% of the 775 with hiring responsibilities are looking to hire more IT security staff this year. Among the area of expertise hiring managers seek are operations security, information risk management, access control systems and methodology, applications and systems development security, and security management practices.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed persons increased by 563,000 to 13.7 million in April 2009, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 6 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 3.9 percentage points.

Yet 80% of those queried by ISC-squared said “they are challenged in their efforts to find the right candidate.” Concerns listed include a lack of desired skills, a lack of available professionals in the area and salary demands too high considering available budgets. Nearly 72% said their information security budgets had been cut between October 2008 and March 2009 and about half polled by ISC-squared said their information security staff had experienced at least one lay off in the past few months

Looking ahead, 62% said they didn’t expect an additional budget cuts and 9% anticipated an increase in their security budgets. Nearly 60% didn’t expect any further security personnel staff for the remainder of the year, according to ISC-squared.

“Companies may be tempted to make rash security decisions in their panic to cut costs,” said W. Hord Tipton, executive director ISC-squared. “Organizations are advised to proactively analyze how cuts affect their risk profile and avoid costly repercussions resulting from breaches and mandated reparations.”

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