Outlook 'grim' for stateside IT staff

US IT professionals face ‘grim prospects’ due to the global economic downturn, company closures, lay-offs, cost cutting, outsourcing, and retirees who have had to return to the job market because of the lost value of their investment portfolios have created a surplus of IT talent.

According to the Janco Associates’ January 2009 IT Salary Survey, the job market for IT professionals is among the worst for nearly 40 years. “There is a surplus of IT talent and companies are in a cost cutting mode,” says the consultancy’s CEO Victor Janulaitis. “The dot-com bubble was a cake walk compared to this job market.”

The survey’s key finding make for gloomy reading:

  • Many companies are instituting hiring and spending freezes. This has been augmented by extensive lay-offs, outsourcing, bonus reductions, and elimination of IT contractors – which has decreased the demand for IT professionals and in some cases lowered wages, with higher priced positions being eliminated.
  • Flexible hours and work schedules are now not as available as they were before the recent economic conditions changed.
  • With outsourcing, lower bonuses, and the recent layoffs there has been a decrease in the mean compensation paid to IT professionals.
  • For the second time in less than ten years retirements are being put off because of the downturn in the stock market, and the resultant reduction in savings available to support IT professionals as they retire. Added to this is an influx of retirees who are looking to get back into the job market because of the massive reduction in their savings; so a surplus of seasoned IT professionals is now available.
  • Hiring demand is down for IT executives (especially in mid-sized enterprises), while proven CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are in high demand in large enterprises.

The positions in the highest demand are at the staff levels of both large and mid-size enterprises with the focus continuing to be line operations, Janco reports, and mandated security requirements such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and PCI.
Outsourcing is placing pressure on computer operations staffs, as those are the positions are the easiest to outsource.

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