Microsoft Key to IT Jobs Growth Says IDC Study

Study predicts relatively healthy employment prospects for skilled IT labor over the next four years in report sponsored by Microsoft

A Microsoft-sponsored IDC study predicted relatively healthy employment prospects for skilled IT labor over the next four years, largely driven by the so-called "Microsoft ecosystem."

That ecosystem consists of Microsoft and its partners, as well as the various IT professionals working with Microsoft products.

Microsoft is responsible -- either directly or indirectly through its partners -- for the employment of 6.1 million people worldwide, according to the study, which tracked the economic affects of Microsoft's software across 52 countries.

The Microsoft ecosystem becomes even larger when 8.8 million IT professionals who work with Microsoft software are added to that 6.1 million figure. IDC estimates that a total of 14.9 million IT pros are involved with Microsoft software, or "42% of the people working in the IT industry."

The report didn't specify to what degree Microsoft would increase employment over the next four years. Microsoft's last fiscal year actually saw direct job cuts at the company, with 5,000 Microsoft employees scheduled for termination. Salaries at Microsoft remained flat for the fiscal year, according to Microsoft's Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell.

Overall, the IDC study expects that IT employment will grow by three percent per year through 2013, adding 5.8 million jobs, "which is more than three times faster than the growth of total employment," the study explains.

Such a rosy IT jobs estimate contrasts very sharply with the general employment picture in the United States, as recently described by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 7.6 million to 15.1 million, and the unemployment rate has doubled to 9.8 percent," the Bureau announced on Friday.

Microsoft famously relies on its partners to sell and support its software. The formula, according to IDC's report, is that for every dollar that Microsoft will make in 2009, the Microsoft ecosystem will get $8.70. Moreover, the Microsoft ecosystem will generate nearly $537 billion in revenues this year, according to the report.

Growth areas in the near future for Microsoft software will be in so-called "emerging markets," or all countries except Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United States and Western Europe. Emerging markets will account for "more than 70% of net new GDP growth during the next four years," according to the report.

Surprisingly, IDC's report didn't track the effects of cloud computing on employment. Cloud computing, in which Microsoft's applications are delivered and maintained by Microsoft or its partners, can be considered a form of outsourcing in which IT jobs likely will be lost. Cloud computing is a big part of Microsoft's "Software plus Services" marketing push with Windows Azure. The report said that cloud computing "is in its infancy" and currently represents just one percent of IT spending. The market may triple by 2013, according to IDC.

IDC's study, Aid to Recovery: The Economic Impact of IT, Software, and the Microsoft Ecosystem on the Global Economy, can be read here, along with region-specific reports.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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