Career watch: The IT jobs outlook

Are there a lot of IT job openings right now? IT workers have experienced their share of layoffs during the recession and the slow-moving recovery. And it’s a fact that some domestic IT jobs that were sent overseas will never return, because workers in other countries with similar abilities can do those jobs at a significantly lower cost.

But it’s also a fact that IT jobs are readily available today in the U.S. and will be available in even greater numbers in 2012 and beyond. The jobs site recorded more than 450,000 IT industry job postings in August. That’s 25% higher than August 2010. Similar results occurred at CareerBuilder, Dice, Monster and other job search engines.

Of course, all job markets are not created equal. New York, San Antonio, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Baltimore, Greensboro and St. Louis are among the current strongest markets for high-tech jobs.

But aren’t there also a lot of unemployed IT professionals? Why aren’t they matching up with the jobs? The biggest factor is that the skills of unemployed IT workers often don’t match what employers are looking for. An IT career requires a lifelong commitment to continuing education and training. Individuals who have failed to keep pace with changes in technology — cloud computing, mobile computing, security, unified communications, social media — are most often the ones who struggle to stay employed.

If the credentials and experience of the job seeker do not satisfy the desired qualifications of the jobs offered, the openings will remain unfilled. The ever-accelerating technology adoption curve places increasing importance on the need to continually update skills of the high-tech workforce.

But keeping technical and business skills current and relevant is something that employers must address as well. It’s easy for companies to sign off on training when business is good and profits are high. It’s a much tougher call when the focus is on every dollar on the bottom line. But ongoing training and education of IT staff is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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