Survey finds IT workforce shortage eases

Survey finds IT workforce shortage eases

The IT workforce shortage that peaked in the 1990s is over.

That conclusion is among the findings of a report released yesterday on agency workforce needs by the Partnership for Public Service, the National Academy of Public Administration and the New York Times.

The report surveyed 25 agencies that make up 95 percent of the federal workforce and found that 18 of the agencies plan to hire a total of 3,292 IT workers from 2005 to 2007.

'These findings show that agencies have switched to using contractors instead of hiring IT workers,' said C. Morgan Kinghorn, president of NAPA. 'It also has to do with the technology innovation, because in the 1980s and 1990s we were bringing people back who knew Cobol. The key skill agencies need to hire now are project and program' management.

The Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, and State departments all plan to hire at least 300 IT employees over the next two years. DOD plans to hire the most at 1,472, the survey found. In contrast, agencies said they would hire 17,373 program managers and administrative support employees.

'Anytime an agency brings in a new financial management or defense system or any type of system, it is done by the private sector,' Kinghorn said. 'The skills employees will need will be broad from a client management perspective.'

The surveyors asked human resources and program management officials about their hiring needs to replace retiring workers and for new positions over the next two years.

'This is the first comprehensive view of the federal government's hiring needs,' said Max Stier, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for Public Service, a Washington nonprofit group. 'This study looks at the federal government as an entire enterprise instead of what each agency's needs are.'

Agencies expect to hire more than 147,000 total employees over the next two years, including:

  • 37,515 in the security, enforcement and compliance fields

  • 25,756 in the medical and public health fields

  • 23,806 in engineering and science

  • 12,959 in accounting, budgeting and business administration

'We need a strategic plan for human capital like we need one for all of government,' said David Walker, the comptroller general for the Government Accountability Office. 'We need to streamline and expedite the hiring process. The classification and compensation system is way outdated.'

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