Web, cloud IT pros buck hiring slowdown

Talent skilled in Web and mobile development and cloud know-how remain highly sought after despite economic uncertainty that's causing employers to be cautious, insiders say.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Recruitment executives and companies have identified cloud computing, Web and mobile app development, and project management as areas that can be recession-proof for IT professionals, even as a shroud of economic uncertainty looms over the new year.

Pri Sandhu, manager of IT commerce division at Robert Walters Singapore, stated that, in general, he is anticipating moderate but steady hiring given the economic uncertainty in parts of the world's economy.

"In general, most IT companies will adopt a wait-and-see approach, and recruit [only] for critical or replacement [positions]," he told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview.

However, this is expected to vary across different industry sectors, Sandhu added. For instance, hiring of IT professionals in the commerce, pharmaceutical, healthcare and electronics sectors would remain active or at least consistent with past years. The financial services sector will see muted activity though as organizations take the cautious approach, he pointed out.

Eric Koh, CTO for online jobs portal JobsCentral, agreed with Sandhu that hiring will be "cautious" across all functions, including IT, among companies. This extends to foreign IT talent as well. Instead, organizations will open up more contract positions as a stop-gap solution, he noted.

Mobility, cloud pros in high demand
Both executives also noted that within the IT arena, workers skilled in the areas of cloud computing, Web development and mobile apps as well as project management will remain highly sought after despite the less-than-favorable economic backdrop.

Koh, for one, said mobile app developers are still in demand given the "phenomenal" rise of smartphones and tablets, together with the shortage of skilled talent in this area.

He also noted that with the Internet now so pervasively used, Web-related IT jobs, including Web developers, user interface and user experience designers, social media marketing and online security, will see great demand.

Cloud computing is another fast-rising technology and jobs in this area will likely be recession-proof too, Koh pointed out.

This was corroborated by Kelly Tan, managing director and vice president of global sales at Hewlett-Packard (HP) Singapore. She said that customer demand in areas such as cloud services, security, information management and mobility is "more than ever before". Thus, the company will remain focused its recruitment efforts to align with these priorities, she said.

Microsoft, too, is aiming to bolster its cloud computing talent base. Jessica Tan, managing director of Microsoft Singapore, emphasized that the company, as a whole, has had "tremendous growth" in its cloud efforts.

As such, it expects its cloud-focused engineering workforce to expand, she said in her e-mail.

Project managers would also be welcome additions to many organizations as they look to outsource their IT functions, Koh said. Non-core IT functions are likely to be outsourced amid the economic uncertainty as companies look to reduce costs and stay agile, and project managers will be needed to ensure the process is smooth and efficient, he explained.

Sandhu added that project managers would also be needed to complete ongoing or upcoming IT projects, and these new hires should preferably have infrastructure skills in storage and systems engineering.

"Employers are usually impressed by professionals who are able to manage large-scale projects, typically in development or infrastructure, since this is a highly-marketable skill across all industries," he noted.

He added that .Net and Java developers will likewise see demand this year, particularly within the healthcare, financial, and telecommunications sectors as organizations look to expand their ICT services and offerings for customers.

Be equipped to stay relevant
Sandhu pointed out that all IT professionals should know that employers are now looking for deeper knowledge and mature IT skills from their staff, and senior management-level executives are not excluded. To stay relevant, Sandhu urged IT workers to upgrade their skills constantly.

For those that are let go by companies, he advised them not to turn down contract positions as these are a good option to gain positive job experience via a series of new projects.

Koh also said it would be wise for people to stay in their current jobs in the uncertain climate, but encouraged them to regularly update their online resumes and keep their options open.

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