Get ready for new competition for IT talent

The number of available IT jobs is poised to increase, even as it’s fallen in many other areas. And some factors, such as Obama’s new jobs plan, could give IT hiring another boost.

According to the most recent data from U.S. Department of Labor, the number of active IT jobs dropped by 0.17% compared to one month ago — however, most of the jobs lost were due to the 45,000 Verizon employees who went on strike last month.

When those employees, who have since returned to work, are factored back into the employment total, it actually shows a small increase of 0.05% in the number of IT jobs compared to a month ago, and 2.71% compared to the same time last year, ComputerWorld reports.

As for companies’ plans in the near future, there are positive signs for job seekers there as well — 12% of businesses plan to add IT jobs in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a recent survey by staffing firm Robert Half Technology. That’s a 6% net increase when combined with the 6% of the 1,400 IT managers surveyed who are anticipating cutbacks.

Also, President Obama’s recently unveiled jobs plan could boost hiring in all areas, including IT. The proposed American Jobs Act includes a $4,000 tax credit for companies hiring someone who’s been out of work for at least months, and $5,600 for hiring unemployed veterans, plus additional tax relief for organizations that increase their headcount.

In addition, while it’s not included in the proposed bill, Obama has addressed the goal of helping startup companies get funding faster — since many startups are tech firms, that could help increase the number of IT jobs out there.

Good and bad news

Of course, any increase in IT jobs is good news for tech workers, but it could present problems for IT managers, many of whom are already struggling to attract and retain the best IT talent.

Two-thirds of the IT managers surveyed by Robert Half said it’s challenging to find skilled employees in today’s environment, compared with 48% who said the same a year ago.

Specifically, the most challenging areas to find IT talent are:

  1. security (cited by 18% of respondents)
  2. networking (17%)
  3. database management (11%), and
  4. help desk and tech support (11%).

Hiring IT employees who specialize in those areas may be tough, and those who are currently employed could be hard to keep as the competition drives up the offers from competitors.

For help recruiting and retaining IT talent, check out our advice here.

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