Not only is California's technology industry growing, but companies in a variety of businesses in the state - from retail to finance to distribution - are expected continue to expand their hiring of information technology professionals at a rate nearly twice as fast as overall hiring. "While overall employment is declining, these information technology skillsets are growing significantly in terms of overall employment," says Josh Williams, president of BW Research Partnership. California companies anticipate 7 percent overall ICT workforce employment growth over the next two years - nearly double than the 3.8 percent overall employment growth estimates. That's one of the findings of a just-released study of the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector in California that BW Research Partnership conducted jointly with the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Centers of Excellence and the Mid-Pacific ICT Center. The study found that 85 percent of California companies require at least some employees to fill ICT jobs, and 74 percent agree or strongly agree that these roles will grow in importance. The ICT jobs sector expects to add 46,000 annual new and replacement jobs in California, paying about twice the state average. On the downside, more than 50 percent of firms reported difficulty recruiting employees with appropriate ICT skills. "We found that even employers whose staffing levels are flat or shrinking are still increasing employment in these skillsets," Williams says. He reports that 78 percent of employers agreed that IT and communications technologies are important to the productivity of their organizations. Although the high-tech sector continues to be a leading employer of IT professionals, Williams says, "We found that industries such as retail and financial services are an increasing employer of IT jobs." -- Doug Bartholomew