Tech Work Force Grows Moderately Despite Downturn

Despite the economic downturn and a spate of failures among Internet-based businesses, the size of the U.S. information technology work force is up slightly, from 10 million last year to 10.4 million this year.

And there are still more jobs than there are qualified workers to fill them, according to a study released April 2 in San Diego by the Information Technology Association of America at its annual work force conference.

However, the demand for IT workers has dropped 44 percent since last year, according to the study, "When Can You Start?"

The study found that employers hope to hire 900,000 IT workers this year, but that 425,000 of those jobs will go unfilled. Last year's study projected a demand of 1.6 million workers and a shortfall of 850,000 workers.

Despite the declining demand, Harris Miller, president of the Arlington, Va., trade association, cautioned observers not to adopt a gloomy outlook for industry.

"The IT industry isn't a pet rock ... it is a long-term part of our economy," he said.

Experience is still critical for workers looking for IT jobs, Miller said. Managers also are placing greater importance on four-year college degrees when making hiring decisions.

"Last year, the market was so tight, managers could not discriminate very much. Now ... they are being a little more selective," he said.

And, Miller added, "Having the technical skills is not enough. [Hiring managers] want to see writing skills, leadership skills."

ITAA represents 500 direct and 26,000 corporate members throughout the United States. Study results are based on a random sample of 685 IT managers in IT and non-IT companies. The survey does not include jobs in government, nonprofit organizations or small entrepreneurial firms. The results have a sampling variability of 3.1 percent. The survey was conducted by Market Decisions Corp. of Portland, Ore.

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