The dip in jobs for information technology workers appears to be over as employers say they plan to hire more part- and full-time workers in the next business quarter, a new study shows.

A recent poll of more than 300 top-level executives across Canada by The Verde Group on behalf of IBM and Sapphire Technologies found that 87 per cent of employers are planning to either maintain of keep their IT staffing levels over the next quarter, with a further 43 per cent of those planning to hire new full-time IT staff over the next 12 months.

Project managers and business analysts topped the list of IT jobs employers looked to hire for the most, suggesting many businesses are planning to go into expansion mode or at least prepare for an end to the current recession.

“In a tough economy companies put projects on hold, now those projects are coming back. It’s a clear indicator of a positive outlook,” said Terry Power, president of Randstad Canada, parent company to Sapphire Technologies.

Power says jobs in IT remain strong in comparison to the rest of the economy despite the downturn. Unemployment in the IT field for the past few years averaged about 2.5 per cent compared to the national average of roughly five per cent — this past year, while the overall unemployment rate hit about 10 per cent the rate of IT unemployment increased only to about four per cent.

Robert Wylie, a director at IBM providing operational-takeover services to businesses, says the company has seen growth in the numbers and scope of IT staff its clients are asking for.

“We’re seeing an uptilt in our clients’ requirements for IT staffing. For the last year and a half what you saw was people trying to cut the costs of IT, now they’re using IT staff to take costs out of their business. We’re seeing companies make more of those strategic investments in IT staff,” Wylie said.

Jobs in IT have been among the fastest growing sectors of the economy for years and Powers believes that strong undercurrent of demand is responsible for the current upswing in hiring expectations, since the cooling economy only put IT hiring needs on hold rather than eliminating them.

“If you look back to ’06 and ’07, there was a lot of discussion about the challenge of finding qualified IT professionals. It was always a mid- to long-term concern. Now I think it’s fresh in people’s minds again,” Power said.

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