Survey Shows IT Hiring Is Rising

August 13, 2004
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HOLLAND — The biggest increases in IT staff over the next six months will likely take place in IT consulting firms and governmental units, according to a recent technology employment survey of IT managers in the West and mid-Michigan areas.

Paragon Recruiting, which specializes in recruiting and placing computer and engineering professionals, began conducting first-half and second-half technology employment forecasts in 2003.

The firm’s owner, Beth DeWilde, said the most recent survey results, released the first week of this month, were based on the feedback of more than 500 senior IT managers.

DeWilde, who founded Paragon in 1996, recalled that in the past companies and individuals would often ask her how the IT employment market was doing.

“I’d give kind of an educated guess based on my knowledge in the market,” she said.

“But I decided we would go out and actually poll the people who are actually making these decisions as to whether they’re going to be bringing people on board or not and really finding out. That’s what prompted us to do it.”

DeWilde has accumulated an extensive database of IT managers that do the hiring within various companies and organizations, both large and small. Those are the people she surveys for Paragon’s six-month forecasts.

DeWilde said IT hiring has been increasing slowly and that she wasn’t surprised by any of the survey results. 

She had expected a solid 18 to 20 percent of employers would be hiring IT professionals in the second half of the year.

IT hiring trends were slightly higher than she predicted, with 25 percent of respondents indicating they planned to increase their IT staff — an increase DeWilde said was significant.

By contrast, 16 percent of respondents in Paragon’s 2003 second-half survey had said they intended to hire IT people.

Overall, 72 percent of companies in the recent survey said they expected to maintain their IT staff at current levels, and 3 percent indicated they plan to decrease the number of IT people they employ. 

By industry, 55 percent of IT consulting companies indicated they expected to increase IT staff, while 50 percent of government units and 38 percent of health-care organizations said they planned new IT hires.

“I knew computer consulting firms would probably be the ones that were growing,” she said.

She explained that firms needing IT consulting start by outsourcing the projects because they’re not certain if the projects merit hiring people full time.

“So that means computer consulting firms are going to increase staff,” she explained.

Other industries anticipated smaller IT increases. Some 20 percent of professional services firms, 18 percent of schools, 16 percent of retailers/wholesalers, and 15 percent of manufacturers said they intended to increase their IT staff.  

Hiring trends also varied by size of the company.

The poll disclosed that of companies with 1,000 or more employees, 47 percent indicated they plan to add IT staff over the next six months. Some 28 percent of companies with 50 or fewer employees also were planning additions in their IT departments.

The Paragon poll also asked participating companies and organizations which IT disciplines most affected increases or decreases in staff.

Of those increasing staff, 62 percent planned increases in the area of applications, 43 percent in systems jobs and 32 percent in IT support staff. 

Of those planning decreases in IT staff, 20 percent anticipated a decrease in IT applications jobs, 40 percent in systems and 60 percent in support staff.

Some 42 percent of companies polled said they outsource projects, with the majority — 79 percent — indicating that they use local outsourcing providers.

Twenty-nine percent said they use national outsourcing providers and 15 percent said they use offshore providers.

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