Shift in IT Skills Already Under Way at Some Companies

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A post from IT Business Edge contributor Don Tennant features quotes from Tennant's interview with Tom Silver, Dice.com's senior vice president, who said full-time IT jobs appear to be increasing while contract jobs are on a slight decline. Silver predicts the <span>balance of full-time vs. contract IT employment will return to pre-recession levels</span> by the end of 2011.


Right now, 60 percent of listings on Dice.com are for full-time work while 45 percent are for contract jobs. (Yes, that's more than 100 percent. Some jobs are both.) In February of 2009, the percentage of full-time positions on Dice was 67 percent and the percentage of contract positions was 42 percent.


Silver said companies will rely heavily on contract workers in the near term to jumpstart projects that stalled as IT budgets were cut. Contractors can be brought in quicker and with less risk to tackle these projects, said Silver, but as business bounces back, companies will resume hiring more full-time workers.


Silver is a smart guy who is certainly closer to the IT job market than I am. Yet I tend to agree with observers like David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Associates, who said "volatility in skills and jobs will be the new standard in market behavior for years to come," thanks to a more fundamental shift in IT employment.


I think companies will hesitate to staff up as they work out what their future IT staffs will look like. Though no one seems to know exactly which skills will be needed, most folks seem to agree they won't be the same ones traditionally associated with IT. At the recent itSMF Fusion conference, Forrester Research analyst Glen O'Donnell said "we must be realistic and not sugarcoat it. Some [IT jobs] will have to go." As some jobs vanish, new ones will be created, he said, offering a list including automation architect, service designer and vendor manager. The emphasis will be on designing and overseeing entire IT systems instead of discrete pieces of systems.


This shift is already under way at some companies, including EMC. As Sanjay Mirchandani, the company's CIO, writes on CIO.com:

Since 2009, EMC IT has been establishing new business and technology teams within our organization and developing new roles and responsibilities to traverse the shifting IT landscape. Processes are being re-defined, streamlined and even thrown out, while others are being introduced to ensure resources are optimally assigned and business demand was being met.

IT staffs will need not only a deeper understanding of their traditional core competencies, writes Mirchandani, but also "a wider skill set to transcend the traditional IT silos." Instead of employing three folks who oversee storage, networking and virtualization environments, companies might hire one person whose skills span all three competencies, Mirchandani suggests. He writes:

Clearly, someone who has a stronger competency across all of these technologies will be beneficial as you embark on the cloud.