Recessions can be merciless, and the one we’re going through is showing little mercy for any job category.
For while chief information officers like to say that information technology is the heart of any organization, this time IT has been as hard hit if not harder than any department. And among IT workers, those holding network-related jobs aren’t spared.
“Everybody felt it this time around,” said David Clarkson, vice-president of human resources at Cisco Systems Canada, “from executives to new grads.”
The good news is that there’s some security in security: Those with security-related skills are among those most highly sought by employers.
“We know of a number of network and system administrators during this recession who have moved into security full-time,”, said David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners LLC, a Vero Beach, Fla.-based IT labour market research firm which covers Canada and the U.S.
The bad news is 2010 may still be another bad year for IT hiring.
“I don’t see a lot of hiring happening, other that by service providers, for most of next year,” said David Foote.
According to the most recent Statistics Canada report, in October unemployment went up up despite two quarters of positive economic growth. On the other hand, for two months in a row the number of full-time jobs has increased. In the U.S., however, the situation is bleaker.
Foote said his latest North American report found “unusual volatility in the market for [IT] skills and certifications.”
“There’s more quarter-to-quarter volatility in the market now than we’ve seen since 2001,” which was the last recession, he said. “Things are haywire right now.”
For example, salaries of IT staff with non-certified skills in RFID (radio frequency identification) leveled off in the last three months after plunging 11 per cent. Salaries of Certified Novell Engineers suddenly jumped 25 per cent in the same period.
Generally, though, the salaries of networking personnel have dropped faster than the average over the last two years.
According to Foote, the pay of 57 networking-related skills that require certifications the company tracks dropped 0.9 per cent in the three month period that ended Oct. 1, compared to 0.2 per cent for a basket of 199 IT certified skills. In other words, their pay dropped more than the average.
Meanwhile the pay of those with IT security certified skills also dropped, but not as fast or as far.
The pattern is the same for those network people who don’t have certified skills.
Some of the volatility has to do with the usual supply catching up to demand. For example, Foote notes that on the company’s so-call Hot List of jobs likely to be in demand over the next three to six months, people with non-certified storage area networking and unified communication skills rank 20th and 22nd. Six months ago they were higher on the list.