Careers: IT Talent Still Matters

Organizations will continue to place a premium on acquiring, and keeping top IT talent even during a recession

When it comes to information technology success, talent really does matter.

International Data Corp. (IDC) proved that maxim again in its Worldwide and U.S. Talent and Acquisition and Staffing Services, 2008-2012 Forecast, projecting that the market for talent acquisition and staffing services will continue to grow, though at a somewhat diminished rate, as organizations place a premium on acquiring, and (more importantly) holding on to, the best IT talent.

Two years ago, the firm pointed to a sharp increase in demand for workforce performance management (WMP) tools as a harbinger of an out-and-out talent war (see http://esj.com/enterprise/article.aspx?EditorialsID=1648).

IDC says the race to identify, acquire, and maintain IT talent will probably heat up if -- as expected -- North American IT firms tighten budgets as a result of a recession or economic downturn. It expects the worldwide market for talent acquisition and staffing services to increase to $121.3 billion by 2012. That translates into a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 percent, and, ironically enough, the U.S. market should lead the way, with a projected growth rate of 8.8 percent. That’s down slightly from previous forecasts, IDC concedes -- largely because of a recent uptick in unemployment in the United States.

“Worldwide unemployment was relatively low throughout 2007,” said Lisa Rowan, program director for HR and Talent Management Services at IDC, in a statement. "The U.S. unemployment rate was relatively steady throughout 2007 until it rose from 4.5 percent to 5.0 percent at the end of the year. Despite this rise and predictions of a slowing U.S. economy, the labor market remains tight, especially for positions in IT and in certain industries.”

Unemployment is higher in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Rowan concedes, but “employers in these regions are also experiencing shortages in some talent areas.”

Elsewhere, IDC reports, the worldwide market for talent acquisition and staffing services in 2007 showed an increase of 8.3 percent over 2006. Not surprisingly -- given its historical leadership -- the U.S. again accounted for the largest share of this spending. Staffing services, recruiters, headhunters, and other talent-finders posted strong 2006 results, Rowan indicates, with double-digit growth in all but outplacement services.

IDC reports that its most surprising finding is that workforce shortages are on the rise, even in the face of a recession. “Workforce shortages are looming, even in the face of an economic slowdown, due to the demographics of an aging population,” IDC points out. “Due to these factors, revenue related to talent acquisition and staffing will remain steady. Suppliers of such services will be uniquely positioned to help employers achieve competitive advantage through sourcing, hiring, and retention of top talent.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.