IT job market faces shifting demand

While on the surface the IT and music industries have nothing in common, they do share one trait – both are driven by what’s hip.

So, if the hottest bands on the airwaves include The Strokes and Pink, there are likewise certain IT skills that are currently sizzling in the job market.

Less than five years ago, thanks mostly to the dot-com craze and Y2K, Web developers, network administrators and systems integrators saw demand for their skills shoot through the roof – a short-lived, yet thoroughly enjoyable time. Since then, demand has shifted yet again.

“What we’re seeing is a real upswing in the ERP sector. Right across that sector we’re seeing an (increase) in demand over the past six months and that remains steady today,” said Scott Mackinnon, manager of resourcing at CNC Global.

The Toronto-based IT staffing and recruiting firm has also seen a surge

in demand for CRM, in either new or re-implementations of the technology, Mackinnon said.

Although it was created in the late 1950s, the demand for COBOL (common business orientation language) programmers remains steady, as do the services of C, C++ or Unix developers, he added.

As an executive recruiting firm in Toronto, Madison MacArthur caters to the needs of executives in the IT industry. The company’s director, Ian MacArthur, said during these shaky economic times, the demand for mid-level to senior project managers as well as CIO and CTO positions remains solid, particularly if a candidate has experience in security. Given the events of last September, it is little wonder why the demand for security has risen, MacArthur said.

“I think we will see a sustained demand for it (security). With all the changes in the environment, different regulations and compliances and individual privacy rights, the focus for companies has to be directed in those areas. (Organizations) will need additional professional people in those areas,” he said.

But for those on the flipside of the hot skills trend, prospects are less rosy. Just ask Jerry Dmetrichuk, IT manager at Dover Industries in Burlington, Ont., who recently placed an ad in a local newspaper hoping to fill a junior IT position which required the successful candidate to offer help desk support to approximately 130 users.

Less than a week later, Dmetrichuk received more than 800 resumes for the position that paid approximately $40,000.

“I can surmise from that that there are a lot of people out of work or looking for work in the lower end positions (and) the higher level you are the more secure it has been.”