From the Westchester County Business Journal:
Increased business does not always mean increased hiring – just ask Westchester County’s IT professionals.
While most of the county’s private-sector industries saw modest employment increases in 2011, a report from Pace University found that the job market for information technology workers was unchanged last year.
Owners of local technology and systems management firms said the problem is not a lack of work, noting that demand is higher than ever; rather, that there is a deficit of qualified workers.
“During 2011, the labor market for IT professionals remained relatively stable – up a few percentage points, down a few percentage points, but essentially steady,” said Farrokh Hormozi, economist at Pace University and lead researcher for the SkillProof IT Index.
The index is compiled on a quarterly basis by researchers at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University.
Finding employees who are the right fit “has been very challenging for us,” said Tara Meenan Lansen, president and CEO of Compufit Computer Corp. in White Plains.
James Oliverio, president of Another 9 L.L.C., a Tarrytown-based managed services provider, said the region’s small job market for IT professionals is partially the result of jobs being shipped overseas.
“It has a lot to do with outsourcing,” Oliverio said. “And those jobs are not coming back.”
As demand for tech support and management services has grown, so too has the number of companies in the region that specialize in the technology field, Oliverio said.
“There are hundreds of companies like us in the region,” he said. “I think about it all the time: Am I going to be leapfrogged?”
Both Lansen and Oliverio were quick to point out that their respective companies have both experienced a surge in business over the past year, particularly from firms that have opted to do away with their in-house technology support teams.
For companies that continue to manage their own servers, doing so “becomes very expensive and very challenging to manage,” Lansen said.
Contracting out systems management, on the other hand, “is more cost-effective for them and what they’re doing is they’re getting a whole company behind them,” she said.
Remote-managed services has been one of the biggest growth areas for Compufit, Lansen said. By performing regular “health checks” of a company’s network, Compufit and other IT servicers can help cut back on lost productivity hours that might result from a downed server or other routine issues.
“We can do real-time monitoring … it mitigates a lot of the downtime,” Lansen said.
At Another 9, technicians are often confronted with questions from clients ranging from cloud computing and managing the sheer volume of information to social networking and how to best integrate mobile devices, Oliverio said.
“Businesses are asking, ‘How do I keep myself ahead of the game?’ That’s why we’ve seen a lot of growth and that’s the future,” he said.
However, as more and more information is stored in the cloud and more technologies and resources – such as smart phones and tablet computers – become available, the security risks will continue to pose problems for both IT servicers and their clients.
“It’s a real fear and there are organizations that wrestle with it every day,” Oliverio said. “Security between now and the end of time is always going to be a challenge. More and more information is going online.”