Employment and salary prospects for IT workers this year may not match the levels during the dot-com boom, but demand for some skills will be on the rise in 2008, according to some industry observers.
"There is a distinct shortage of certain IT [skills], and that shortage seems to be growing," says Neill Hopkins, vice president of skills development at The Computing Technology Industry Association Inc. (CompTIA) in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
Although the talent shortage is being exacerbated by dramatic declines in enrollments in university computer science programs, along with the first trickle of baby boomers starting to head for the exits, specific skills shortages are weighing heavily on CIOs' minds.
"If you're looking at emerging technologies such as Adobe Flex, there are some boutique firms that have resources, but to get those skills in-house, it's a much smaller pool," says Frank Hood, CIO at The Quiznos Master LLC in Denver.
Here are the top eight skills in demand for 2008, as identified by Computerworld's first-half 2008 Vital Signs survey.
1. Programming/application development.
As companies continue to Web-enable their existing applications and plow deeper into Web 2.0, demand is red-hot right now for people with AJAX, .Net and PHP skills, says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director at Robert Half Technology in Menlo Park, Calif.
Plus, as a growing number of organizations begin adopting Microsoft Corp.'s Silverlight 1.0 rich-media software tools, expect to see rising demand for people expertise in that area, says Spencer Lee.
2. Project management.
CIOs are hungry for project managers who have extensive experience overseeing complex efforts that have delivered clear business benefits -- not just someone who has obtained a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from Project Management Institute Inc., says David Van De Voort, principal consultant at Mercer International Inc. in Chicago.
Many organizations, such as Sabre Holdings Corp., are applying agile development test-driven development techniques. Finding people with finely-honed skills in these areas "is extremely important," says Sara Garrison, senior vice president of product and solutions development at the Southlake, Texas-based air travel data company.
Also, expect to see heightened demand for quality assurance specialists to help test and check new systems that are being rolled out, says Dan Reynolds, CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based staffing firm The Brokers Group LLC.
What are your skills worth?