Careers: IT Jobs Growth a Double-Edged Sword

The economy last month added more new IT jobs than at any point over the last four years, but the picture is changing radically.

Are things looking up on the IT jobs front? It sure seems like it.

Consider the latest jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which shows that the economy added almost 18,000 new IT-related jobs in April.

Actually, IT hiring has been growing for some time now. According to IT compensation specialist Foote Partners LLC, for example, last month’s tally made was the 11th consecutive month of job growth in four IT labor segments. That being said, Foote notes, in April the economy added more new IT jobs (by a healthy margin of 7,000) than during any month in the last four years.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news: concerns the kinds of IT jobs that are becoming available.

What seems to be happening, says Foote, is that a lot of new IT jobs are being created in the services sector. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that shops are outsourcing IT jobs instead of opting to fill them with full-time, in-house staff.

Not all outsourcing segments are sitting pretty, either. Over the last 12 months, for example, the telecommunications and data processing hosting services segment shed almost 41,500 jobs according to BLS data. During the same period, the management and technical consulting services segment produced almost 100,000 new jobs.

Foote CEO David Foote isn’t particularly surprised. “The trend of employers no longer wishing to employ large numbers of their own full-timers in what are mostly pure technology IT jobs has been building steam over a very long period of time,” he said. “It’s not something that just began with the popularity of cloud computing, managed services, and offshore outsourcing, although certainly the widespread acceptance [of] these [alternative] sources for skills has been a big factor in the acceleration of what we’ve been witnessing in the federal employment reports over the past several months.”

There’s another wrinkle, too. Technology is getting smarter. One upshot of this is that some IT positions are being phased out or eliminated.

“[T]echnology advancements in areas such as telephony and communications, storage, servers, networking, and software development have lessened dependence on a variety of engineers, programmers, installers, administrators, and maintenance support staff, or at least these advancements have dramatically affected the skill sets necessary to be effective in jobs that have undergone substantial changes ... so that it now becomes more strategic to source these skills outside of the enterprise.”

About the Author

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