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ITAA survey finds good, bad IT news

The good news, according to the recently completed annual IT workforce study by the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), is that the number of IT layoffs has dropped substantially over the past year. The bad news: IT professionals looking for work are hitting brick walls that won't go away any time soon.

According to the joint study by the Alexandria, Va.-based ITAA and online recruiter Dice Inc., the domestic IT workforce has grown by a scant 1% during the past year as the demand forecast by IT hiring managers for new workers has dropped sharply.

ITAA President Harris Miller said the results of the fifth annual study are ''one more indication that where the overall economy may be recovering, the IT marketplace is still coping with recession. Hiring managers appear to be less bullish than at the start of the year -- even as many forecasters have predicted an IT industry turnaround in 2003. My concern is that a sluggish job market today could turn off many prospective information systems and computer science students, resulting in rampant IT talent shortages a few years down the road.''

Meanwhile, the most recent ITAA quarterly employment update found that the size of the U.S. IT workforce grew by a net 85,437 positions since January 2002 to just under 10 million. Employers added 782,466 IT workers and dismissed 697,029 IT workers during the period. The update also found that hiring managers have adjusted their 12-month hiring outlook considerably since earlier in 2002.

Other findings included: IT's biggest need to date is tech-support specialists. The survey found that of the 440,282 IT workers hired in the last three months, almost one-third (147,649) were in the tech-support category. Web developers were the next most-popular hiring category, with 93,410 added to work rosters, followed by network design/administrators with 47,463.

Specific technical skills, including expertise in C++, Oracle, SQL and Java, are still widely coveted by IT organizations.

About the Author

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.

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