CFOs say companies will hire more techies in 2014, but not in IT

Many CFOs are optimistic about jobs in tech-oriented companies, but the hiring picture for IT-specific positions remains poor

The most recent BDO USA survey of 100 CFOs in "leading technology companies throughout the United States" claims that for the fourth year in a row, the majority of said CFOs believe they'll be adding employees in the coming year.

But a closer look at the numbers indicates the hiring in question may not be for IT itself, but rather in other jobs that exist in the broader technology field, such as in manufacturing, sales, or marketing.

BDO, which also produced a recent report covering projections by CFOs about mergers and acquisitions in 2014, noted that 91 percent of CFOs predict employment will either stay the same or rise in tech companies this year. That number has remained at or near 90 percent in the previous three years' surveys, even while the overall job market has remained sluggish.

Another eyebrow-raising find: 95 percent of CFOs polled do not believe they will be sending operations overseas in the coming years. Most such offshoring is in manufacturing, say 59 percent of the respondents, with 41 percent saying they outsource IT and programming jobs.

On the face of it, these survey results clash with responses harvested by Janco earlier this year regarding IT jobs, where the news has been consistently downbeat. But the two surveys cover slightly different territory. First, obviously, is the pool of respondents: Janco's poll reached out to CIOs, rather than CFOs. Second is the job pool in question: Janco's survey focused specifically on IT-related positions, while BDO cast its net over the wider field of technology jobs, including manufacturing and PR positions.

The Hackett Group has aired similarly grim news, as it believes 1.5 million IT jobs will be eliminated by a mix of offshoring, automation, and bad growth.

Another facet of the overall picture, which might explain CFOs' optimism, is how IT positions can be redefined or shuttled about within a company. As InfoWorld's Bill Snyder put it in the above link, "Many IT jobs within enterprises have moved out of the traditional IT ghetto and into various business-related departments." In other words, the jobs traditionally labeled "IT" might well be migrating out from under those umbrellas -- although that in turn depends on who's applying the labels and to what end.

It's also telling that IT itself isn't listed as one of the job sectors CFOs were polled about. CFOs believe the biggest job sector gains for 2013 would be in "sales and marketing" positions, according to the survey's data table, 21 percent in "research and development," 21 percent in "manufacturing," and 20 percent in "other." Management and administration trail behind at 7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

It's still a better deal to work in tech than in almost any other field, with tech employees of all kinds enjoying far better-than-average employment rates. But the picture for IT specifically remains a downer, despite the optimism of CFOs.

This story, "CFOs say companies will hire more techies in 2014, but not in IT," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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