Fluent in geek speak? You’re hired.
While the latest unemployment numbers for New York City still show a gloomy prospect for many would-be workers, recent reports from Dice.com and Pace University show just the opposite for those in the information technology industry—employers can’t seem to fill competitive high-tech positions.
Some companies are even engaging in battles for hard-to-find tech talent, said Tom Silver, a senior vice president at Dice, a career website for technology and engineering professionals.
“Filling talent voids can be painful and expensive,” he said.
According to July’s Dice Report, New York-New Jersey was ranked No. 1 across top metro areas by the number of new job posts on the website, with more than 8,200 tech positions. That’s almost twice the number of postings for tech jobs in Silicon Valley (which came in at No. 3) and more than Chicago (No. 4), Los Angeles (No. 5) and Boston (No. 6) combined. Washington-Baltimore came in second place, with 7,400 posts.
“It’s the fifth straight month of companies posting more jobs on the site,” Silver said.
In Manhattan, the information technology job market showed remarkable strength during the second quarter, according to the Pace/SkillPROOF IT Index Report, also known as PSII. The index, which provides a snapshot of IT job openings at major firms, saw a 47 percent increase, from 74 to 110. It was the largest quarterly gain since the index began tracking data in 2004, according to the report.
Farrokh Hormozi, a professor of economics and public administration at Pace University, said the index behaves much like a leading economic indicator, in that the IT employment market rises and falls before the economy does. He sees the index growth as a sign that companies are feeling optimistic and are looking to “take advantage of the technological advancements.”
Indeed, while the overall unemployment rate for New York City was 9.5 percent in June, experts estimate the rate is half that, or even lower, for the high-tech industry.
The caveat, however, is that although demand for IT professionals is high, computer programming skills are not enough (on their own) to get a job, experts said. Business, sales or administration experience is also essential.
“Schools are preparing them in this capacity” to be able to wear many hats, Hormozi said. For instance, computer science students can take marketing classes, he said.
For IT professionals already in the workforce, Hormozi said that they can increase their value with a business or public administration certificate, rather than learning another programming language.
In fact, job postings for IT managers and network/data communications analysts were the largest contributors to the growth of the Pace index in Manhattan, while the Dice Report shows that the tech skills currently most wired for success are C#, Java/J2EE, and SAP or Oracle know-how.
Moreover, the companies engaging in battles for these coveted skills, Silver said, is likely to make retention the issue this year in technology departments.
“Companies need to think about how to build long-term relationships with technology professionals,” he said. “Understand that you have a lot of competition.”