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IT Job Market Best In Five Years, Survey Finds

In greatest demand are IT specialists with Windows administration expertise, followed by workers with network administration experience.

A boom in IT hiring may finally be at hand, according to a survey released Monday by Robert Half Technology, an IT employment service and agency. Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report found in its survey of 1,400 CIOs that 16% said they plan to hire staff in the first quarter of 2007, while just 2% plan to cut back staff.

"The net 14% hiring increase -- the highest since the fourth quarter of 2001 -- is up 4% from the previous quarter's forecast," the IT employment company reported.

In greatest demand, the agency said, are IT specialists with Windows administration expertise, particularly with skills in Server 2000/2003. The next greatest area of demand is for IT workers with network administration expertise.

The greatest demand will come from the East South Central area (Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee.) There also was growing demand for IT workers in cities scattered throughout the country, the agency reported. Among the cities where CIOs said they plan to add employees are: Boston, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and San Francisco.

In New York, for instance, 200 CIOs were polled and 15% reported plans to add employees in the quarter, while 3% anticipate cutting back on staff, for a net 12% increase.

Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of RHT, said the New York figures are based on a two-quarter rolling average of companies with 100 or more employees. "A low employment rate, combined with continued strong demand for highly skilled professionals, is resulting in a need for IT specialists at all levels," she said in a statement.

Robert Half Technology, which provides IT professionals on a full-time basis or for projects, said the chief reason CIOs plan additional hiring is to accommodate business growth; the second reason is to satisfy an increased demand to assist customer and end-user growth. Hiring is likely to be heaviest at larger firms with 1,000 or more employees. Robert Half Technology predicted a 23% net increase is predicted for those large firms.

Some 77% of CIOs ranked Windows administration as the skill set most in demand at their IT sites, followed by 71% who said workers with network administration skills are in demand. The CIOs, who were given the chance to list multiple responses, ranked database management skills -- they cited Oracle, SQL, Server, DB2 -- in the third place, with 63% responding.

Robert Half Technology said the transportation industry appears headed to carry out the most aggressive hiring, with 24% planning to hire IT workers in the first quarter. The manufacturing segment was in second place, with 19% of CIOs there planning to add IT personnel.

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