Survey: CIOs ‘cautious’ about IT hiring

A recent survey of Canadian CIOs finds that while there won’t be a whole lot of IT hiring in Canada over the next quarter, there won’t be many layoffs either.

The survey found that Canadian execs are erring on the side of caution when it comes to hiring IT staff. The majority of Canadian CIOs polled — 80 per cent of them — said they intend to maintain their current IT staff levels, while only 15 per cent of CIOs said they plan to hire additional IT personnel and two per cent are planning on staff reductions.

Conducted by an independent research firm on behalf of Robert Half Technology for the Robert Half Technology Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report, the survey involved more than 270 CIOs from Canadian firms with 100 or more employees.

However, while 80 per cent of those surveyed are not hiring, that does not mean that the unemployed workforce’s prospects are decreasing, according to Stephen Mill, regional manager of Robert Half in Toronto. “I’d say that for anyone who is unemployed, it is the reverse. There are more opportunities today.

“When the vast majority of people who are hiring are citing the fact that business is better, that’s just going to take a bit of time perhaps to trickle through to more and more companies,” Mill said. “Because there are so many companies today — and I hear this every single day — that don’t want to be in a position to [where they have to] lay people off.”

Of those CIOs who indicated they plan on hiring, 72 per cent of them said business expansion is the reason.

“Every indication is that IT spending levels for the balance of 2004 are only going to increase,” noted Mill. “And the big thing is what companies are increasing now — we’re talking about capital expenditure spending, which we just have not seen in who knows how long. Antiquated desktops, antiquated applications, antiquated systems that are held together with tape, band-aids and string…It’s now to the point where to be competitive, companies have to lay out some money and the good news is they actually have the money to lay out.”

With investments in technology comes the need for those who implement and manage it, he explained.

In terms of skills, 80 per cent of CIOs cited Microsoft Windows Administration as an area of expertise they were looking for, while SQL Server Management received votes from 42 per cent of those surveyed. An additional 34 per cent of CIOs indicated that Cisco Network Administration was something they were looking for in workers. (Respondents were able to to choose multiple answers for this question.)

Mill said the business intelligence area is also hot right now, as it relates to technological development. Query and reporting, online analytical processing, data mining and forecasting are other skillsets that are in demand.

“The Web is pretty hot again, believe it or not, just because everything is tied to it now, not just from customer service, customers buying online,” Mill added. “Everything is integrated to the Web and I think a lot of companies had that on hold in a sense…now, from a framework and tech perspective, .Net is still extremely popular.”

Programmers are, on the whole, also more in demand, he added.

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