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Demand Shifts for IT Skills

So far, the year 2009 bodes both good and ill for IT professionals with Internet skills, at least from the perspective of Foote Partners LLC, a research firm specializing in IT salaries and skills compensation.

First, the good news: In general, IT skills remain in demand despite the recession. According to Foote’s recent research, culled in part from surveying a pool of 84,000 IT professionals in 1,960 companies in the U.S. and Canada, a majority of IT workers surveyed continue to get at least 7 percent of their pay for specific skills, such as networking, security, database management, or project management.

The bad news? Some specialized skills, including Web development, have suffered a reduction in demand.

David Foote, CEO of the eponymous firm, says demand has grown for IT skills related to project management, architecture, and security. According to data from a set of 22,550 respondents to Foote’s survey, IT security certifications grew nearly 6 percent over the last two years as a percentage of overall median pay.

But the same sample of respondents reported that skills related to Web development certifications dropped 36.8 percent as a percentage of median pay in the same timeframe.

Foote’s research in the area of non-certified IT skills reveals a similar trend: Over the last two years, respondents have reported that management, methodology, and process skills have grown as a percentage of IT staffers’ premium pay by nearly 21 percent. In contrast, Web and e-commerce development has grown just 3.5 percent as a non-certified skill.

What gives? Isn’t the Web the way forward for many IT pros?

David Foote says many firms, especially in healthcare, retail, finance, and education, hired an abundance of experts in specific kinds of online applications in recent years. Many of these were pilot projects, and when the going’s gotten tough, they have been cut mercilessly.

At the same time, Foote points out that demand has risen for IT skills involved in designing and overseeing an organizational move to automated processes in the data center. Ironically, being able to help design and implement technology that reduces headcount is more popular than swelling the IT ranks with specialized Web-related expertise.

Further, these kinds of skills will come in handy as industries consolidate: “With the anticipated escalation in recession-driven mergers and acquisitions creating an enormous amount of integration-related activity, IT architecture and project management expertise are [sic] in more demand than ever,” Foote writes in his report’s executive summary.

Another expert confirms the trend. “Enterprises today are more concerned with solving business problems than with employing the ‘latest technology,’ ” writes Tom Nolle, CEO of the CIMI Corp. consultancy, in an email. “If you go to the online forums for IT and networking, you find all kinds of questions that sound like, ‘Why can’t my management accept that my ideas need to be implemented even if I can’t prove any business value whatsoever?’ The executives look at this sort of thing and laugh. Project managers are typically very connected to the business justification and becoming ever more so, and technical types are fleeing justification more every day.”

Bottom line? IT is still hiring, and online applications are still important, but demand has shifted from specialized skills, including Web development, to architectural expertise.
Source:InternetEvolution Written by Mary Jander

2009-02-20 14:39:37


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