Tech workers are finding themselves in territory not seen since the peak of the dot.com era: an improving job market.
“Some businesses may in fact regret some of the job cuts they made in recent years, which, in retrospect, may have been too deep,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer for Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the agency that released the latest tech sector job figures. “Recent surveys suggest that employers are having an increasingly difficult time finding information technology workers.”
The sector includes computer, telecommunications, electronics and e-commerce workers. Job cuts announced during the first quarter of 2006 were 34 percent lower (39,379 compared to 59,537) than the same quarter a year ago. It was the fourth consecutive drop for the industry.
However, the first quarter figure was 16 percent higher than the 21-month low of 34,048 tech cuts announced during the final three months of 2005.
Mergers and acquisitions have been the driving factors behind tech sector job cuts for several quarters. Nearly half of the job cuts this year were the result of mergers. Eighty-eight percent of those merger cuts occurred in telecommunications.
“Despite the inevitable job-cutting that typically follows mergers, the job market picture for the nation’s tech workers is definitely improving,” said Challenger. “Many job seekers in high-demand fields, such as storage systems administration and information security, are probably finding themselves in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating terms.
In a quarterly survey by the tech industry trade publication CIO Magazine, 26.3 percent of chief information officers said IT labor was hard to find and keep. That is double the 13 percent of CIOs who said the same thing a year ago.
Although Colorado’s high-tech industry cut 2,500 jobs in 2004, the state still has the highest concentration of technology industry workers, according to a report from AeA Mountain States Council, a trade association that represents all segments of the high-tech industry.
In its ninth annual Cyberstates report, which includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the association said 80 of every 1,000 private industry workers are part of a technology business. The group also said the average worker makes $76,400.
“Colorado’s tech sector remains a strong and critical part of our state economy,” said Jessica Wright, executive director of the AeA Mountain States Council. “In 2005, over half of Colorado’s exports to the world came from the tech industry and the state’s venture capital investments jumped by 47 percent.
“While Colorado is well positioned for growth, we also need to focus on the long term. We need improved math and science education in our schools to ensure we have a work force that is prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
XAware will be working with IBM on the next generation of service-oriented software information management technologies.
“IBM is focused on being able to provide services that are considered an asset, wrapped around the idea of service-oriented architecture applications,” said company spokesman Darrin Black. “The software exposes business functions as a service, and the partnership will allow them to re-use the service function across different access points.”
Black said the companies have a “synergy” that allows IBM to use the X-Aware software to optimize business functions.
As part of the partnership, XAware will sponsor a panel, “SOA and the Future of Collaborative Enterprise” at IBM’s PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas.
Amnet has become the first Microsoft Corp. Small Business Specialist in the Colorado Springs area. “Small businesses are looking for partner companies that understand their unique business needs,” said Steve Guggenheimer, vice president of small business for the Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner Group at Microsoft. “With resources like the Small Business Specialist Community and the partner locator tool on the Microsoft Small Business Center Web site, it will be much easier for Colorado Springs’ small businesses to identify local partners that are best able to address their specific needs.”
The Small Business Specialist community, available as a competency-like designation as part of the Microsoft partner program was developed in response to input from customers and partners that expressed a need to build easier connections that enable small-business customers to quickly and easily identify technology partners best suited to support them.
Amy Gillentine covers technology for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.