A new study by Janco Associates, Inc. is full of gloom-and-doom about the state of employment in the IT industry. A year-long survey of U.S. and Canadian businesses indicates a combination of job outsourcing, layoffs, and other cost-cutting measures have led to the worst job market IT professionals have seen since the dot-com bubble.
Just what you wanted to hear, right?
The survey's researchers say right now there are more IT professionals looking for work than there are available jobs. It's a problem that's worsened recently as retirees return to the job market because their retirements accounts are bottoming out due to the worsening economy.
Those that have jobs are lucky, but are encountering cutbacks of their own as companies decrease fringe benefits like performance bonuses and disability insurance. Freelancing as a means to supplement your income isn't a viable option either, as many companies are reducing the number of independent IT contractors they hire.
To get a sense of what the real-world implication of these study results mean, The Register crunched some numbers and says, "For 'mid-size enterprises', the mean salary for all IT staff positions has dropped 0.75 per cent to $60,279 compared to a year ago. The mean salary across all mid-sized enterprise IT positions has dropped 2.91 per cent to $73,607.
"For 'large enterprises', IT staff position wages have dropped 0.89 per cent to $65,956. Mean salary across all IT positions have dropped 1.2 per cent to $81,128."
The outlook looks bleak, indeed, but we also need to do a reality check. First of all, while falling wages are never good, your economics 101 professor would remind you that when supply exceeds demand, prices drop. In addition to retirees returning to work, colleges and universities are pumping out tech workers en masse and flooding the market.
Unfortunately, there's little to be done for it except to wait for the market to level out. In the meantime, considering getting additional training and certifications to become an IT specialist, or look into teaching. Don't lose sight of the fact that there's a huge need for your skill set, even if it won't bring you tons of cash.
Organize seminars to help people returning to the workforce learn computer skills, or set up classes to teach computer science to the homeschooled students in your area. If you're really into teaching, talk to your local school district. Many states will accept work experience in lieu of a 4-year teaching degree and place you in a classroom after some minimal formal teacher training.
Second, remember that there are still plenty of places that are hiring. Much of the media loves to report on the scarier news reports that portend an economic depression lurking right around the corner. The fact is, there are still jobs to be had in many sectors of the tech industry. Keep an eye on the social networks where IT professionals are known to gather -- Toolbox for IT and LinkedIn, for instance -- to get job leads and fresh ideas.
Yes, Janco's new survey results are a little jarring. No, there's no reason to abandon hope, move to a deserted island, and live off coconuts just yet.