5 Dampers on IT Worker Confidence

By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 07-07-2006

For the fourth month in a row, technology professionals have felt more confident in their jobs than the U.S. workforce at large, according to the Hudson Employment Index for IT Workers released July 5.

With a base score of 100, the IT index came in at 108.2, compared with the national index of 102.4. The trend of technology workers surpassing the larger market in security has had only one lapse in eight months.

The numbers mesh with findings from Spherion, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based staffing and recruitment company, whose IT Confidence Index was up 4.4 points in January to 56.8, with more workers reporting confidence in the economy and their employment situation.

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"There's more activity around the IT space, more projects rolling out, and everyone I talk to is building their staff with either contingent workers or full-time employees. Though the growth of employment opportunities, skilled IT workers are feeling bullish about their job prospects," said Brandon Courtney, vice president of Spherion professional services.

Just what makes technology professionals so much more confident than non-techies?

"A lot of employees themselves have seen their companies go through reorganizations and then reprocessing. These workers have a greater feeling of importance to their employers because they're part of making them more efficient," Jeff Nicoll, practice manager for New York-based Hudson IT & Telecommunications, told eWEEK.

Yet IT professionals are a group who have experienced one of the worst white-collar recessions in history, said Courtney, and they don't take the current economy for granted.

In fact, many are quite far from a state of personal job exuberance or even satisfaction, concerned about larger issues from offshoring to the possibility of an economic downturn. Below, we round up five of these concerns and get some expert insight into the actual state of IT worker confidence.

1. Offshoring and outsourcing

    It's impossible to have a conversation about the state of IT employment without someone bringing up what most U.S. IT workers consider their biggest threats: outsourcing and offshoring.

    "The IT workforce is not confident," said Rick Brenner, a former software engineer who is now a principal at Chaco Canyon Consulting, in Cambridge, Mass.

    "Over the last five years there's been a lot of IT outsourcing and while it's probably slowed down some, the threat has not subsided."

    Despite reports that offshoring's impact may be overstated and that it has primarily affected "low-end" jobs such as database administration, while high-end jobs are showing a growth rate comparable to the tech boom years, tech professionals are not reassured.

    "In large companies (500-plus seats) non-core functions are continuing to be outsourced. Help desk, deskside support, hardware maintenance, app development, etc., have continued to be the areas that these companies shift to other providers," said Steve Chase, executive vice president at Alphanumeric Systems, a Raleigh, N.C.-based technology solutions provider. "Employees that work in these areas are definitely watching for 'cost-saving' moves and are trying to position themselves for more strategic jobs. Those in strategic positions feel good, those that aren't are worried, or at least not comfortable."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: 5 Dampers on IT Worker Confidence