Technology Sector has Plenty of Jobs to Fill
“It’s an exciting time to be in technology,” said Jenifer Mauney, metro market manager for Robert Half Technology. “If you have the right skills, you can ignore the 9.7 percent unemployment rate in Georgia. For most IT [information technology] professionals, it’s less than half that.”
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In the fourth quarter of 2011, Robert Half Technology saw average unemployment rates of 3.6 percent for computer programmers and Web developers; 2.4 percent for computer and information systems managers; 2.2 percent for computer hardware engineers; and less than 1 percent for computer network architects and database administrators.
What’s driving the demand? “Technology is so integrated into business and life. Everything is going to the Web, and everything on the Web is going to mobile applications,” said Mauney. “Between e-commerce and business-to-business operations, companies have more and more data that they need to store, organize, analyze, report on and secure.”
That’s pushing the demand for database administrators, mobile application developers, business intelligence and IT security professionals and help desk workers.
“The help desk is a company’s first line of defense in meeting customer and staff expectations. We’re seeing those candidates begin to command higher salaries and all technology salaries increase incrementally,” said Mauney.
Because IT has moved into mainstream business operations, companies are looking for candidates with specific technical skills, business savvy and soft skills that allow them to work well with co-workers, customers and management.
Programming jobs are calling for Microsoft.net, C#, ASP.net and VB.net skills; while mobile employers are looking for Objective-C, Java, Cocoa frameworks, HTML 5 and DSS competencies. Business intelligence jobs need people with SQL Server experience who can use the SSRS, SSIS and SSAS tools, said Mauney.
“Technology is an industry that everybody needs, especially with companies shooting for efficiencies and a competitive edge,” said Tino Mantella, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). “At present, there are over 4,300 job openings that we’ve identified in the tech space.”
Companies are requesting multiple skills sets to get more return on their investment, and many want experience as well as skills, making it harder for new grads, he said. On the other hand, acquiring technology skills for a first or second career can take less time than expected.
“When we traveled the state as part of the Science and Technology Strategic Initiative Joint Study Commission, we learned that 80 percent of technology jobs require less than a four-year degree,” said Mantella. “Not everyone has to be an engineer. That was eye-opening.”
A case in point is a new one-year certificate to train technologists in the health information technology field. Gwinnett Technical College and the Georgia Institute of Technology shared a $1.65 million federal grant to train more workers, including veterans, for this high-demand field.
The mandate for all health care providers to switch to electronic health records by 2014 is spurring demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 36 percent growth in health IT employment through 2018.
Georgia is the nation’s health IT capital, Mantella said. More than 200 health IT companies create $4 billion in revenue here, including McKesson Technology Systems, which is ranked first on the HCI-100 List, according to Healthcare Informatics.
“We already have a health IT associate degree at Gwinnett Tech, but this new certificate won’t tie people up for two years, and it will build on skills they already have,” said Lorri Christopher, director of institutional advancement, Gwinnett Technical College. “There are clinicians who need to acquire technology skills and IT professionals who need to understand the health care system. This certificate will fill the gaps in their knowledge and help people get jobs.”
TAG has identified seven technology sectors where Georgia leads: health IT, IT security, communication services, logistics technology, interactive marketing, mission critical facilities (data centers), and financial technology.
“Payment processing is a big part of financial technology, and statistics show that 80 percent of payment processing flows through Georgia,” said Mantella.
“Having so many companies headquartered here makes Georgia a hub for technology, and that helps us secure top talent,” said Jonathan LeCompte, president, Georgia/Alabama region, Verizon Wireless. Verizon has 63 company-owned and operated stores in the state. “We’re expanding our 4G LTE network in metro Atlanta, growing our customers and hiring people for sales, customer service, networking and IT positions. There are so many career paths in technology.”
Announcements such as Asurion bringing 250 new jobs to Buckhead and Greenway Medical Technologies adding 400 new jobs in Carrollton speak to the growing economic recovery in this sector.