Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Saturday, August 8, 2020
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IT Help Wanted, Especially Security Experts 

They say security breaches are like heart attacks: You don't start exercising until you've had one.

It appears that a lengthening series of high-profile security breaches using increasingly sophisticated attacks have prompted IT vendors and their customers to hit the gym. According to a recent survey of IT trends, security experts have replaced programmers, developers and software engineers as the toughest position to fill in most enterprises.

TEKsystems, an IT staffing and services specialist, released the updated results of a survey this week confirming that companies struggled during the first quarter of 2015 to identify qualified security specialists. At the beginning of the year, programmers, developers and software engineers were in greatest demand along with project managers. At the time, security experts were ranked fifth among IT positions on the TEKsystems survey of more than 300 IT executives, including CIOs, IT directors and personnel managers.

The IT consultant listed security as a top spending priority for IT departments going into 2015, with 65 percent of respondents saying they expect to spend more on security this year.

In its most recent update, TEKsysems also forecast a big increase in "contingent hiring," that is, hiring IT specialists for a limited period of time, usually from a third-party placement agency.

"Where we have seen significant change is in the area of contingent hiring, which has seen a major shift towards increased hiring plans," said Jason Hayman, research manager at TEKsystems, Hanover, Md. "Employment growth was robust in 2014, at least by recent standards, and most signs point to continued growth in 2015."

IT executives also said they expect to have sufficient resources this year to hire more security experts and contingent workers. At the beginning of the year, 45 percent of respondents said they expected their IT budgets to increase, while 43 percent said they expected a budget increase by the end of the first quarter.

While contingent IT hiring is expected to jump significantly this year, the survey found that 40 percent of respondents also expected full-time hiring to jump in 2015. Entering the second quarter, 45 percent of IT administrators said they expect to hire more full-time workers.

The IT employment trends reflect the growing shift to the cloud and, with it, heightened concerns about securing data in cloud infrastructure. Hence, there has been a steady transition to enterprise cloud infrastructure in which businesses keep a close hold on proprietary and sensitive data in on-premise facilities while leveraging public cloud-based compute and storage resources. Regulatory requirements related to securing data are also fueling the need for more security specialists.

Along with security, TEKsystems found that the "most impactful IT trends" heading into 2015 were business intelligence and big data, "enterprise resource planning" and cloud computing. Echoing other industry surveys, the IT consultant also reported a sharp rise in DevOps capabilities as more enterprises deploy more applications in the cloud.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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