Demand of IT Workers is Sliding, But The Jobs Are Still Out There

ARLINGTON, VA—This is one of those good-news-bad-news announcements: According to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), nationwide demand for IT workers this year is down 44 percent from last year. That's the bad news. The good news (for IT workers, at least) is that, even in a climate of reduced demand, employers are still unlikely to fill all their open positions with qualified people.

"There are a lot more people out there with the skills than there were five years ago," said ITAA president Harris Miller. "On the demand side, the demand simply has slowed down because the U.S. economy is slower."

Based on interviews in December and January with managers who hire IT workers, the study covered both tech and non-tech companies, and it looked at both purely technical positions (systems administrators, programmers, etc.), and quasi-technical jobs, such as technical support. The study concluded that employers would need to fill 900,000 information technology jobs (due to new positions, retirements and turnover) in 2001, down from the 1.6 million employers needed to fill in 2000.

But they the number of qualified IT workers available to fill those jobs will fall short by 425,000, which is half the shortfall of 850,000 reported last year. The overall high-tech workforce is estimated at 10.4 million people, up from 10 million in last year's survey. That number does not include workers in government or non-profit jobs.

The study found that demand for the less technical jobs in particular is declining. Demand for technical support personnel has softened, too, but not to the same extent; a fourth of all IT positions to be filled this year will be in technical support. Demand has also dropped substantially for workers in technical writing and digital media, the study found. However, the demand for enterprise systems professionals and network designers and administrators is likely to increase, the study concludes, with many positions in those two categories going unfilled.

The study was sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges, American Management Systems, Cisco Systems, Hall Kinion, Intel, ITT Educational Services, Knowledge Workers, Microsoft and SRA International.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].