Despite Economy, IT Employment SoarsBy Pedro Pereira | Posted 2008-07-15 Email Print
June brought an all-time high for employment in IT, which has some of the most recession-proof jobs in the market.
You’ve seen the comments in the blogosphere, right? They tend to read something like this, "I’ve worked in IT 15 years and I always tell my children to choose another field."
In response to my column last week, someone posted this: " Most companies appear to go out and look for someone who has the exact qualifications they need, someone who will work 80-plus hours a week, and someone who will do it for nothing."
The column dealt with the industry’s chronic skills shortages, and how the Computing Technology Industry Association has teamed up with the Chicago Public Schools to do something about it.
The turn-of-the-millennium recession caused a lot of pain in the IT industry and the channel. Scores of people who enjoyed good pay and benefits during the 1990s were laid off. And while the industry and the channel recovered around 2004, the wound hasn’t quite healed for everybody.
To be sure, IT workers have some justifiable gripes. The person who commented about long hours and qualifications makes some good points. For instance, I suspect the skills shortage that industry and channel employers often grumble about has to do with a disconnect between employers’ wants and jobseekers’ qualifications. Well, at least some of the time.
But this isn’t 2001 anymore, and it turns out IT is faring considerably better than other industries in the current economic slowdown.
Staffing firm Jobfox concluded in a recent report that the IT industry has some of the most recession-proof jobs out there. Based on job vacancies, the firm found the IT industry has more high-demand professions than any other industry.
The highest-demand profession currently is for sales representatives/business development professionals, according to the Top 20 Most Recession-Proof Professions list, which Jobfox compiled after analyzing statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Sales rep is a broad category that includes jobs in the IT industry. The same goes for administrative assistant and finance staff, which ranked seventh and 10th, respectively.
But Jobfox’s list also included IT-specific jobs, four of which are in the top 10 -- software design and development, which ranked second; networking/systems administration (sixth); business analysis: software implementation (eighth); and business analysis: research (ninth).
The Top 20 also included the IT-specific occupations database administration (14th) and technology executive (16th), in addition to the following categories, which also cover IT: project management (11th), testing/quality assurance (12th), product management (13th), account/customer support (15th); and sales executive (18th).
Jobfox’s figures cover the time period from last November through July 7. The company’s findings support another recent report, this one from the trade association NACCB (National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses), saying that U.S. IT employment reached an all-time high in June, at 3.9 million.
That’s right – all-time high. And this while the overall unemployment rate was inching past 5.5 percent.
There’s no question that these are tough economic times, and as such, channel and IT companies overall must be mindful of their expenses and how they invest their resources. But the fact that IT has fared as well as it has through the current slowdown is a measure of how intrinsic technology has become to running a business, and life in general.
So to those people who would recommend against finding employment in the IT industry: Think again. Aside from nursing, which ranked third on Jobfox’s Top 20 list, you’ll be hard-pressed to find jobs with as much potential for the future as IT-related occupations.
And when the high-tech and energy industries finally pull together in a concerted way to solve our energy crisis, the opportunities will multiply. But we’ll leave that particular topic for another column.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org.