Christmas came in midsummer for Nicole Thompson, IS director of applications at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley.
Thanks to a federal mandate to implement electronic health records (EHR) systems, she has the funds in her 2011 budget to hire 11 new employees for projects ranging from database analysis and design to wireless device implementation.
"I'm bringing people on staff now who have extreme database experience," says Thompson, who works at the health care network's Benedictine Hospital campus in New York. She also needs someone with systems analysis and design experience, as well as someone who can communicate with clinicians about their workflow and then adapt a vendor's software to fit the hospital's needs.
"It's a very exciting time," she adds. "This is the first time in my entire IT career where I have been able to hire people. I'm loving this!"
After months of staff cuts or hiring freezes, many U.S. companies are planning to hire IT employees with highly valued skills. The percentage of respondents to Computerworld's annual Forecast survey who said they plan to increase staff size in the next 12 months increased slightly, from 20 percent in last year's survey to 23 percent this year.
"We're talking about hiring. It's happening now," says Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing services firm Robert Half Technology and a Computerworld.com columnist. "Companies that cut staff or implemented hiring freezes are realizing they need employees now to help upgrade IT systems and prepare their firms for potential growth."
What's more, IT managers are taking the opportunity to mold their departments into profit-making business units.
Computerworld's survey uncovered these 11 must-have skills.
1. Programming and Application Development
About 47 percent of the survey respondents who said they plan to hire IT professionals in the next year will be looking for people with programming or application development skills. Moreover, Monster.com reports that three quarters of 245 HR managers and recruiters it surveyed in May plan to hire IT staffers with applications expertise by the end of this year.
"Those skills are separate from enterprise business applications," says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners LLC in Vero Beach, Fla. In this volatile market, companies need to quickly reposition, as well as use IT to grow the business through new products and innovation. So "RAD, rapid programming and agile programming seem to be coming back. Companies are starting to increase some of their pay [in these areas], which means they're looking for more capabilities in their companies," he says.
2. Project Management
Kathleen Kay has put project managers at the top of her 2011 hiring list at Comerica Bank. With some 140 IT projects on the schedule, she will need people to oversee Web and mobile initiatives, a treasury management product rollout and a legacy applications refresh, among other efforts.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based bank will fill those needs by hiring new people and retraining existing employees. "