When it comes to overall job prospects for IT professionals, 2014 will look a lot like this year, with 32 percent of companies expecting to increase head count in their IT shops, compared with 33 percent in 2013, according to Computerworld's annual Forecast survey.
But while demand will remain steady overall, there have been a few changes in the skill sets most desired by hiring managers. Unemployment "is probably close to zero for people with high-demand skill sets," says Michael Kirven, founder and CEO of Mondo, a technology resource provider. Employers in search of top skills, he says, need to be prepared to move fast. "If you want them, you can be 100 percent sure there are at least two other firms that want them, as well," he says.
Here's a look at the IT skills that will be in demand next year, according to companies with plans to hire IT professionals in 2014.
1. Programming/application development
- 49 percent of respondents said that they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
- Last year's ranking: No. 1
As it did in the 2013 Forecast survey, programming/application development tops the list of hot skills, although just under half of the 221 respondents said they will hire in this area, compared with 60 percent last year. Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings, parent of IT jobs website Dice.com, concurs that software developers are the most sought-after technology workers and notes that they enjoy one of the lowest unemployment rates around -- just 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's no wonder, then, that respondents to the Computerworld 2014 Forecast survey named developer and programmer job openings as the most difficult to fill. The hottest specialties within that category, Melland says, are mobile development expertise and experience building secure applications.
Carbonite, an online backup service provider, expects to find a tight market for software developers and engineers as it shifts its business model to focus on the needs of small businesses, says Randy Bogue, vice president of talent at the Boston-based company. "While there are a lot of experienced software developers in the Boston area, there are just as many technology companies looking to hire them," he says. "We find this while looking for front-end developers, user experience engineers, mobile developers and pretty much any other software development position."
Lucille Mayer, CIO at BNY Mellon, also expects to have difficulty finding developers. The financial services company has several hundred openings, mainly in New York City and Pittsburgh, and about 40 percent of those are in development. Another 30 percent are in infrastructure, 20 percent are for business analysis/project management positions, and 10 percent are in management.
"Demand is high for skilled developers with three to five years' experience and a service delivery orientation," says Mayer, who is particularly interested in people with object-oriented development experience. Also important is finding people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse ideas and perspectives, she says.