Tech employment and consulting at historic highs, government says

Tech employment and consulting at historic highs, government says

Summary: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows full employment for IT professionals, record hiring for service firms.

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Data out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows IT unemployment has dipped down to 2.7 percent, well below the current average of 6.7 percent for all jobs. At the same time, IT consulting opportunities have been booming, breaking new records.

Conference crowd-Gaylord National Convention Center September 2013-photo by Joe McKendrick
Photo: Joe McKendrick

The BLS stats were surfaced by Dice, the online IT employment site, which finds that the technology unemployment rate fell to a recovery low during the first quarter of 2014 —2.7 percent. That compares to 3.5 percent in last year’s first quarter for technology professionals, "but is still above the record low of 1.8 percent that occurred in the second quarter of 2007," Dice reports.

An unemployment rate below 4 percent is considered by many economists to be "full employment," a point at which the pool of available workers has dried up for employers. That's when intense competition for skills really heats up.

One route to quickly acquiring needed IT skills, of course, is through consulting, systems integration or outsourcing services. These services also appear to be encountering more demand than they can handle. Tech consulting has been setting multiple records in this recovery in terms of workforce size, weekly hours and hourly earnings, Dice observes. "As per the BLS, in the first quarter, tech consulting added 17,200 new positions, bringing the workforce to more than 1.7 million."

"Computer systems design" jobs were the big growth area, while data center operations and computer manufacturing lost jobs.

The demand for IT skills has grown increasingly acute as organizations have sought greater big data analytics capabilities, along with the movement toward digital enterprises -- meaning more external, internal and hybrid cloud projects, mobility initiatives and business process restructuring. Employers are no longer competing against the company next door, or even companies in their own industries for talent. They're also competing with a robust and energetic startup scene, as well as enterprises from everywhere across the globe.

Here are some tips for attracting tech skills in today's competitive environment:

Support training and development: Talent may be right under employers' noses. For example, the next generation of data analysts and scientists may not only come out of university programs, but also from the ranks of existing IT and data management staffs.

Pursue new types of outsourcing strategies: Acquiring IT services no longer requires gigantic or even long-term contracts -- through APIs and cloud services, needed functions and resources may be immediately available online.

Make your organization a great place to work: Many companies stay in business in spite of themselves, with rigid, calcified management that quashes innovation every chance it gets. You don't have to have a campus full of pinball machines or nap pods, but a culture that encourages innovation and new approaches will help keep and attract valuable talent.

Topics: IT Employment, IT Priorities

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3 comments
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  • I don't buy it

    I personally don't see such a rosy picture.
    LlNUX Geek
    • Indeed

      Compensation package cutbacks continue, with plans reaching 3 years into the future. Body shop outsourcing (which of course grows into expensive contracts and one failed project after another) are still the focus rather than hiring.

      And as always the quoted numbers say nothing of the people who have given up and moved to entirely different fields of endeavor, early retirement, and so on.

      "Big data" the "digital enterprise" and similar hoola-hoops mean nothing in the overall scheme of things. This is a very small part of an organization's needs, usually in some corner of the executive suite and populated by a handful of nepots who do little but schmooze with vendors hoping to score a killer sale of magic beans.

      Vague "design" and operations jobs just show how the critical IT labor budget continues to be drained off by parasitic functions. Top-heavy upper management can relate to these even though their contributions are trivial when not negative. Maybe this suggests that the Royal-titled (CIO, CFO, CxO) need elimination. They ought to be seen as large "attack surfaces" of the organization, far too subject to vendor exploitation with too much power in too few hands.
      dilettante
  • What really seems to be trending up is new ways to screw workers!

    What really seems to be trending up is new ways to screw workers!
    At first it was just temp agencies providing no muss no fuss disposable employees for businesses.
    The latest scam is one temp agency goes to another agency to get you, now you have two bloodsuckers taking a cut and the end customer saying I am not getting my moneys worth!
    No S*it Sherlock!
    But now Google and other corps go to a Project lead agency in India which then subcontracts with temp agencies in the USA.
    There does seem to be full employment for middle men of all types and writers who trash STEM workers!
    buzzallnight