CIOs at leading technology companies are planning to increase their headcount in the fourth quarter, but not at a rate that suggests the industry is anywhere near ready for bounds of prodigious proportions.
According to a survey of executives by employment staffing and consulting services firm Robert Half International, tech companies will hire new employees at roughly half the pace of other industries as the combination of flagging sales, economic upheaval in parts of Europe and the inability to find qualified IT specialists conspire to stymie tech jobs growth in the U.S.
The survey polled executives at 4,000 U.S. companies across a variety of industries. Overall, RHI reports that a net 6 percent of companies (derived from subtracting the percentage of companies laying off or not hiring new employees from the percentage of those that plan to add headcount in the quarter) are bringing new hires into the fold.
Business services (up 16 percent), manufacturing (8 percent), professional services (5 percent) and retail (5 percent) are leading the charge, a trend that’s to be expected leading up to and through the holiday shopping season.
And while CIOs said they expect their departments to play a key role in the growth plans (or cost savings) of their companies, only a net 3 percent of technology companies expect to hire more employees in the fourth quarter.
The primary reason, aside for budget constraints, is the lack of qualified candidates to fill niche positions. Fifty-one percent of CIOs said this drought of talent is keeping them from filling open positions, up 7 percent from the previous quarter.
Drilling down to specifics, the survey found that network administrators — particularly those versed in cloud-computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies — and application and Web developers for those same categories remain most in demand.
This latest survey comes as the latest effort to get a handle on the tech industry’s direction.
In August, TechServe Alliance issued a report that found IT jobs improved by 1 percent in July, creating 9,7000 new IT positions in a single month. Through the first seven months of the year, the report determined more than 63,000 new tech-specific positions were created and filled.
However, Consumer Electronics in June reported that 27 percent of CIOs were planning to cut their headcount this year, a particularly gruesome figure considering 49 percent of companies shed some IT workers in 2009.
Despite the mixed hiring signals, Robert Half International’s study found that 86 percent of executives queried are “very” or “somewhat” confident that their companies will record significant sales and earnings growth in the quarter.
Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.