Main image of article D.C.’s Aging Tech Workforce Needs Millennials
In September, Google executive Megan Smith became the third Federal Chief Technology Officer—an appointment that qualified as D.C.’s biggest hiring news of late. "It's not exclusively focused on IT," Smith wrote in a statement about her new role. "It's focused on all the technology opportunity ahead for our country and for ourselves. So, it could be energy-related or basic science-related or innovations in biology—all those areas." Click here to find a tech job in Washington D.C. Smith also noted that there are 1.4 million jobs coming in the IT and technology sectors, but only 400,000 Americans qualified to fill them. “How do we attract our young people?” she asked. “How do we make those jobs available to the extraordinarily talented veterans who are returning from serving? How do we make them available to all American citizens who could train for them?" All good questions, and positions are certainly available. “The D.C. technology job market is hot,” said Heather Raines, D.C.-based recruiting director for Randstad Technologies. “The unemployment rate for IT in the D.C. metro area remains nearly non-existent, making it truly a candidates’ market.”

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But where are the young job hunters? The federal IT workforce is aging. FCW reported in August that 48 percent of federal IT workers are over the age of 50, and 32 percent will be eligible for retirement by 2017. Millennials aged 32 and younger make up just 10 percent of the current workforce. “The federal government cannot afford to continue to under-represent this critical group, not only because of upcoming retirement shifts but also because this ‘digital-first’ generation has the potential to bring significant technical innovation to the delivery of government services,” FCW wrote. Meanwhile, federal tech workers continue to keep their eyes on three slow-moving bills that may alter the government’s tech landscape and the jobs it creates:
  • The Federal Information Security Modernization Act updates the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 to move toward more automated and continuous monitoring, while further defining the responsibilities of both the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security in assessing the government's cybersecurity risks.
  • The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act would increase the power of agency CIOs, giving them more authority to approve IT budget requests and contracts and enhancing their hiring authority, steps needed to improve how $84 billion annual IT dollars are spent.
  • The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Act addresses the need for agencies to share cybersecurity resources and consolidate federally managed cybersecurity systems.
And speaking of security, the federal Office of Personnel Management will end its huge contract with USIS, the security clearance contractor that was targeted in August by a cyberattack. That attack compromised the personal files of 25,000 government workers. The company, which has 3,000 employees, actually spun out of OPM during a privatization push and had been responsible for vetting the five million government workers who require national security clearances. The fact that one of those workers was Edward Snowden was another black eye for the company.

Skills in Demand

"Healthcare, financial services, nonprofits, real estate, and construction are booming for tech professionals in the D.C. area,” said Chris Brinkman, regional manager of IT recruiting firm Robert Half Technology. “Employers are looking to fill roles for network engineers, Web developers (Java, .NET), IT security, and help desk/desktop support professionals. Over the past six months, we’ve seen opportunities relating to Web and network security increase as well.” Randstad’s Raines said that mobile Web developers, Ruby on Rails experts, network security experts, and cloud engineers are in demand: “Additionally, many companies are upgrading ERP systems such as PeopleSoft, MS Dynamics and SAP/Business Objects and moving from outdated technologies toward the open source market.” Fifty-nine percent of the Washington, D.C., tech executives surveyed by Robert Half said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments, followed by desktop support and database management. Local recruiters also see continuing demand for software developers. According to IT recruiting firm Mondo’s 2014-2015 Salary Guide, the top three skills currently in demand in Washington are application and software development, e-commerce, and database management.

Salary Trends

According to the 2014-2013 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Washington D.C.-based IT professional is $97,588, unchanged from the previous year and 11 percent above the national average of $87,811. TechAmerica’s Cyberstates 2013 report found that D.C.’s tech workers (including those in the surrounding regions of Maryland and Virginia) earned an annual average wage of $102,000, ranking fifth among all states and 106 percent higher than Virginia’s average private sector wage. Robert Half Technology reports that 22 percent of Washington, D.C.-area technology executives expect to expand their IT teams in the second half of 2014, up an impressive nine points from the previous survey; another 66 percent plan to hire only for open IT roles. “We see a considerable increase in needs for temporary or contract-to-hire placements from October to early December,” Brinkman noted. According to Mondo, Data Scientists, Data Virtualization Engineers, and Cloud Engineers are currently seeing the largest salary jumps.

Leading Industries

  • Government
  • Defense Contracting
  • Outsourced Government Services
  • Banking
  • Healthcare

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