Following the close of each quarter, IT analyst firm Foote Partners LLC reveals a list of the certified and non-certified skills that earned premium pay during the preceding three months. Although the first quarter's data exposed extreme volatility in the pay index, those fluctuations weren't the highlight of the report. The quarterly swings in top-paying skills reflect an evolution in the IT staffing model according to Foote Partners CEO David Foote. Here's a summary of his conclusions from the press release:

It is not the recession and recovery, at least not directly, that's causing all this volatility. It's actually employers accelerating transitions to new staffing models. They've been struggling with IT workforce transformation for years, trying to become more agile, flexible, nimble, whatever you want to call it. But it's complicated and risky and requires a level of confidence and leadership skills that not many executives possess. What the recession has done is get them 'unstuck.'

Foote said IT leaders will not return to pre-recession staffing levels despite the recovery; they will instead rely on contractors for short bursts of technical expertise, while less-technical full-timers are hired to work in the business units. The just-in-time skill demand is behind the quarterly shifts in premium pay. And though the trend toward functional specialization is not new or even newsworthy, Foote contends that the recession accelerated the revolution, which will impact the careers of IT professionals who have traditionally worked as full-time employees. He recommends: 

  • IT professionals should tie themselves to solutions, not technology vendors, to achieve greater job stability.
  • Highly skilled professionals should consider contracting careers to garner premium pay as CIOs seek technical expertise to solve problems, not people.
  • The value of technology certifications continues to diminish as generalist positions emerge

"There's no turning back to the way the IT organization operated before the recession, and I think it is a huge leap forward for IT executives. Ultimately this will enhance the business' perception of IT," said Foote.

Is Foote's synopsis about a new IT staffing model correct? What about his career recommendations? Share your thoughts.

-- Leslie Stevens-Huffman