Tag Archives: economy

  • More Tech Pros Voluntarily Quitting Their Jobs

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    New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that more tech pros are voluntarily quitting their jobs.

    In August, some 507,000 people in Professional and Business Services (which encompasses tech and STEM positions) quit their positions, up from 493,000 in July. It’s also a significant increase over August 2014, when 456,000 professionals quit.

    Voluntary quits are generally a sign of a good economy, hinting that people feel confident enough about the market to jump to a new position (likely with better pay and benefits), if not strike out on their own as an independent.

    For tech pros, things are particularly rosy at the moment; according to the BLS, the national unemployment rate among tech pros has hovered at under 3 percent for the past year, although not all segments have equally benefitted from that trend: Programmers, for example, saw their unemployment rate dip precipitously between the first and second quarters of this year, even as joblessness among Web developers, computer support specialists, and network and systems engineers ticked upwards during the same period.

    If there’s one tech segment that hasn’t enjoyed economic buoyancy, it’s manufacturing, which has suffered from layoffs and steady declines in open positions over the past several quarters. With weakening demand for PCs and other electronics devices, many hardware manufacturers are in the doldrums; on the human side of things, innovations in factory automation have eliminated jobs.

    For those involved in many aspects of consulting and software, though, the good times continue. If you’re a tech pro who intends on jumping to a new job, just remember that it does you no good to burn your bridges when leaving your former position; you never know when you might be back.

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  • Asheville Ranks Among Top 10 for U.S. Small City Growth

    Some cities have the best of everything: the jobs, the schools, the museums, the nightlife, you name it. They know the recipe for attractiveness. But other cities like Detroit are still mired in recession. Chances of their economies turning upward are slim. And their most productive citizens — an economy’s best chance of recovery — […]

  • Good Economy Equals Tech Pros Jumping Jobs

    shutterstock_PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek

    IT professionals seem to feel more comfortable about their economic security these days, and a lot of them are looking around for new jobs, increasing competition among employers for tech pros.

    According to a new survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Randstad Technology, some 41 percent of U.S. IT workers said they’re likely to seek new employment opportunities over the next 12 months, while 52 percent said they were confident in their ability to find a new job.

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    At the same time, however, the poll found that 57.4 percent of IT employees were confident in the health of the overall economy, a slight dip from a record high noted in the third quarter of 2014. Forty-one percent of IT workers thought the economy was getting stronger, and 32 percent thought there were more jobs available. (Some 44 percent thought there were fewer jobs.)

    Bob Dickey, group president of technology and engineering at Randstad, suggested that employee confidence stems from their skills and what part of the country they live in. “Overall, IT employee confidence remains pretty high,” he said. “For that reason, a lot more needs to go into attracting the right IT talent.”

    Dickey noted that the cost of living in the region, training opportunities, and the culture of the organization all play a major role in attracting IT talent. But he also conceded that consolidation of data centers in the age of the cloud, along with increased IT automation, could affect the demand for certain types of IT jobs, as well as their location.

    In addition to datacenter consolidation, many lower-level IT administrative functions are being automated. The end result is more demand for IT people with higher-level skill sets. “We’re constantly getting poached,” said Steve Hellmuth, executive vice president of operations and technology at NBA Entertainment in New York. “Investment banks are where a lot of our people wind up going, so we’re always recruiting at the college level.”

    Factoring in that rate of turnover is now part of the organization’s basic business plan, Hellmuth added.

    Like it or not, the days when a soft economy gave employers leverage over IT staff are pretty much over. Some organizations may be trying to lower their costs by moving IT jobs to different locations. But for every IT professional who might be attracted by the lower cost of living in a particular region, there will always be another that can’t get enough of the bright lights of a major city.

    Given that need for talent, tech companies are focusing their recruiting efforts in areas outside of Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. Louisiana announced that, as part of a 10-year deal involving IBM and CenturyLink, it will spend $4.5 million to expand computer science programs at the University of Louisiana, Louisiana Tech and Grambling State. As part of that arrangement, IBM committed to creating 400 jobs in Monroe, La., where it will open a service center to develop security, data analytics and mobile applications. Meanwhile, CenturyLink will transfer 350 employees to IBM, where they will become full-time employees employed in the new Monroe facility.

    With IT professionals fairly confident in their ability to find new jobs, expect more tech companies to make similar moves in order to increase their pools of IT talent.

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  • Will Robots and Automation Doom Some IT Jobs?

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    For decades, at least some economists made the assumption that, for every job lost to a robot or automated process, the evolving economy would add at least a few more. If a robot took your job building widgets, the idea went, you could still get a job (with sufficient retraining) fixing the widget-building robot.

    But according to The New York Times, there’s an emerging view that automation is weighing down on employment. “This is the biggest challenge of our society for the next decade,” Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at MIT, told the newspaper. Nor does Lawrence H. Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary, reportedly believe that the jobs lost to automation are being replaced.

    To find jobs related to automation, click here.

    While robots and software have become increasingly sophisticated in a relatively short period of time, it remains to be seen whether the human labor force can adapt to what some are calling a paradigm shift in how the economy works. Forget factory workers losing their jobs to line robots—what happens when a machine develops the capability to act as a health inspector or even a restaurant critic?

    This trend will certainly affect tech pros in increasing numbers. Over the past few years, software and hardware vendors have redoubled their efforts to automate many processes that once required highly specialized IT workers. Once upon a time, a company required an army of IT administrators and support staff to maintain a data center; but thanks to automation, even a massive data center only requires a handful of people to keep running effectively.

    For IT workers, that automation increases the pressure to learn multiple skills, rather than specializing in one or two. Hardware specialists may need to know how to code in multiple languages, for example; infrastructure experts in charge of complex and converging systems could find themselves building more apps. The alternative is potential elimination as software becomes better at dedicated tasks.

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  • IT Services Providers Pay Well for Advanced IT Skills

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    The next time IT professionals with advanced skills go looking for a job, chances are good they’ll discover that IT services providers will pay them about 15 to 30 percent more than a traditional enterprise IT organization.

    IT services vendors and traditional IT organizations have always competed for the best IT talent. But because IT services providers build their business around the talents of their in-house IT staffs, making sure they have the best and brightest people is a critical business requirement. With the general economy improving and enterprise IT becoming more complex, finding those people has evolved into a major challenge.

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    “We have a number of senior architects that emerged from our storage and data center practices,” Jerry McIntosh, senior vice president for advanced technology at IT-services provider ePlus Technology, said in an interview. “But we’re starting to have to look further afield in order to find people with, for example, programming skills.” He believes the people who can combine business skills with technical acumen will be the ones that rise to the top.

    Because IT people with the latest advanced skills are in such high demand, CompTIA, the industry IT association, reports that IT services firms have already noticed an uptick in the cost of IT labor. In fact, CompTIA reports that salaries for IT professionals who work in IT services firms are considerably higher than in traditional enterprise IT organizations.

    For example, CompTIA data shows that computer network architects make about 32 percent more when working for an IT services firm. Network and systems administrators typically make as much as 17 percent more.

    The challenge that IT professionals often face with applying for these jobs is that many of them are customer-facing. Not only do IT professionals need to have advanced skills to land these jobs, IT service providers want to make sure that the IT professionals they hire have the “soft skills” required to keep customers satisfied.

    Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT, suggests that, with the rise of software-defined data centers (SDDCs), it’s going to be a lot easier for IT services organizations to remotely manage IT. Combine that capability with advances in IT automation, and King notes that it’s quite likely more IT in the years ahead will be under the management of external IT services providers.

    With the rise of SDDCs, King said, it’s increasingly clear that application programming interfaces (APIs) will be exposed that will allow data-center infrastructure (along with the applications running on it) to be managed from anywhere in the world: “We’re heading towards a future where traditional back-end management of the data center is being commoditized… The effect that automated operations have on IT is something vendors have historically always talked gingerly about.”

    Right now, many data center operations lack people with the programming skills necessary to turn the vision of SDDCs into everyday reality. But the IT operations specialists who do have those programming skills are likely to command a significant salary premium for years to come. As for those IT specialists who don’t learn to program, the number of career opportunities they can pursue will continue to shrink as IT operations become more automated.

    Even if IT operations specialists don’t know how to program today, the probability that an IT services provider is going to be willing to invest in training is considerably higher than a traditional enterprise IT organization. The IT service provider is trying to monetize IT skills to the fullest extent possible; the average enterprise IT organization tends to view training as either an expense to be minimized or, worse yet, a cost to be absorbed by the employee.

    With the costs associated with acquiring those skills rising, IT professionals who want to stay current on advanced technologies that will pay consistently better might want to go to work for an IT services provider. After all, IT services providers tend to have the financial wherewithal to actually deliver on that salary promise.

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  • Conflicting Reports on IT Job Market’s Health

    Two tech groups are reporting a slowing job market for technology professionals, but a third survey – from Robert Half Technology — reports the opposite. According to TechServe Alliance, an association of IT and engineering staffing and solutions firms, technology hiring grew by 3,200 jobs in November, 3,100 jobs in October and 6,100 jobs in September – a pace well off the gains posted earlier this year. “We are noticing a clear deceleration in the rate of growth,” said Mark Roberts, the Alliance’s CEO. However, the group did note 28 months of consecutive job growth in IT. The industry now employs 4.5 million people, up 180,200 jobs this year, it said. Meanwhile Janco Associates, which generally takes a conservative view of tech hiring, has called the IT job market “anemic.” The firm’s study looks at a smaller data set, and found only 400 IT jobs added in November, and 4,300 added over the past three months. Based on interviews with 104 CIOs over the past two weeks, Janco says that tech executives and their companies have grown more cautious. It attributes that to lingering uncertainty about the economy and another round of government sequestration coming in January. Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis notes that states that have high numbers of IT workers – such as California, Washington and Virginia — also have big defense installations likely to be affected. Better Views On the other hand, a look ahead by recruiter Robert Half Technology estimates that 16 percent of U.S. CIOs plan to add to their teams in the first half of 2014, an increase of 5 percentage points from this year’s second half. For companies that operate on a calendar year, that means new budgets are in place to get new projects rolling. Fewer companies embark on new projects during the second half of the year. Most (67 percent) will continue to fill only vacancies on their staffs, while 15 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold. Just 2 percent expect to reduce their IT staffing levels. RHT’s projections are based on interviews with more than 2,300 CIOs from 23 major U.S. markets. “We continue to see strong demand for IT professionals across the United States,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “Professionals with skills in mobile applications development, data analytics and networking are in especially high demand.” Recently, Wanted Analytics said software developers were the most-sought-after IT professionals , with 232,000 jobs advertised online in the past 90 days. That’s an increase of 3 percent over the same period in 2012, and more than 120 percent from four years ago. Robert Half found that 88 percent of CIOs are somewhat or very confident in their company’s growth prospects for the first six months of 2014, an increase of 2 percentage points from six months ago. And 69 percent were confident that their firms will invest in IT projects in the first half of 2014, a rise of 6 percentage points. The post Conflicting Reports on IT Job Market’s Health appeared first on Dice News .