Tech workers gain confidence as employment prospects lift

Confidence levels among IT workers improved in the second quarter, buoyed by reports of employment gains in the U.S. tech sector.

The IT Employee Confidence Index, created by staffing and recruiting company Randstad Technologies, increased five points from the previous quarter to 53.6 points. Tech workers' overall confidence had dipped to a 12-month low in the first quarter, hitting 48.6 on Randstad's scale.

Tech workers are particularly optimistic about their employability. Forty-seven percent of IT workers said they feel confident in their ability to find a new job -- a gain of nine percentage points compared to 38% in Q1.

When asked about the economy, 30% of IT workers said they believe the economy is getting stronger (up from 27% last quarter), while 39% said the economy is getting weaker (down from 46% in Q1).

"Given the demand for IT talent, we are not surprised to see an increase in confidence numbers. Information technology teams continue to support organizations in unprecedented ways, and leadership is scrambling to find talent to address important priorities," said Bob Dickey, executive vice president of technologies at Randstad US, in a statement.

Among the in-demand tech skills Dickey singled out are: Java, data architecture, SOA, and experience with SuccessFactors, Microsoft Dynamics, SQL Server, SAP HANA and Workday.

Yet despite greater signs of optimism about the workplace and the economy, IT workers' confidence trails the national index, which measures U.S. workers' attitudes across a range of industries. The national Randstad index hit 56.3 in July.

Some IT employees remain leery about the security of their current position; 25% say it's likely they'll lose their current job in the next 12 months (58% say it's not likely).

"While we are seeing some improvement in confidence and in the desire to find a new job, IT workers are often in precarious situations within organizations, working on temporary projects or jumping in to fix problems," Dickey said. "As a result, employees may be feeling a level of insecurity around that."

Meanwhile, Foote Partners' analysis of July's employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a net gain of 18,400 jobs across four IT-related job segments. In a single category -- Data Processing, Hosting and Related Services" -- 3,600 jobs were created in the month of July, marking the single best month of job growth in this category since June 1998.

In the big picture, the rate of growth of IT employment continues to accelerate, says TechServe Alliance, a collaboration of IT and engineering businesses. On a year-over-year basis, IT employment has grown by 5.71% since June 2012, adding almost 241,700 IT workers, the alliance reports.

Separately, surveyed 1,000 hiring managers and recruiters, and 73% said they plan to hire more technology pros during the second half of 2013 than they did during the year's first six months. The IT careers specialist also notes the number of job postings on its site that mention the word "cloud" hit an all-time high this month, topping 5,000 -- which is up 32% compared to a year ago. "There's an upswing in cloud services and cloud technology-related job opportunities," says Shravan Goli, president of Dice.

Randstad's study, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive in April, May and June, polled 203 technology industry employees.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at@annbednarzand reach her via email

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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