7 hard-to-find IT skills companies want now

IT hiring is slowly but steadily picking up. That’s good news, but it also means some businesses may have a hard time finding people with the skills they need.

In the upcoming year, 29% of companies plan to add IT staff, according to a recent ComputerWorld survey. That’s up from 23% in 2010, and 20% in 2009.

Much of the hiring will be focused on getting the staff together to handle upgrades that were delayed over the past few years because of budget issues. At the same time, businesses also need staff members who can deal with new platforms and challenges, such as cloud computing and mobile development.

These are the top IT skills analysts say organizations will be looking for over the next year:

  1. Programming and application development — This includes areas such as web development, programming for mobile applications and upgrading existing systems.
  2. Project management — As IT departments begin to get delayed projects off the ground, they’ll need skilled people to manage them — especially considering the propensity of big IT projects to fail before they’re completed.
  3. Help desk support — IT departments will always need skilled people to man the help desk — however, the economic downturn and resulting IT budget woes left many help desks understaffed. Now, as more money becomes available, many businesses will try to get things back to normal, with a special focus on finding people skilled in support for remote workers.
  4. Business knowledge — These days, many IT departments are making a conscious effort to become better aligned with the rest of the organization — and that includes finding IT employees with a solid understanding of business functions.
  5. Knowledge of emerging technologies — As more companies start to use cloud computing, mobile applications and other newer platforms, they’ll need IT employees with skills in those areas. However, since it tends to take a while for those skills to be taught in college programs, the numbers of people who meet that criteria may be limited.
  6. Security — Keeping data safe is always a big concern for IT, and that’s not going to change this year.
  7. Soft skills — Even as the specific technical skills companies need change, what’s constant is that IT departments need employees who appreciate new challenges and can learn quickly, know how to communicate with co-workers and people throughout the company, and can work well in a team.