After a long, hard winter, Chicago's tech job market is beginning to thaw. 

Taz Stevens, regional manager director for Technisource's local offices, says in the last five months the firm has seen a major pickup in job orders. "It increased in Q4 and has remained steady since," he says. "When I speak with customers, I don't see any signs that it will abate. There is a big focus on contract and consulting positions. Our customers are investing in consulting positions until they have a clear picture of the what the future holds.

Needed are project managers and business analysts, .NET application developers for small and medium-sized businesses and Java developers for larger organizations. Infrastructure engineers also are in demand.

Randy Wolf, regional vice president for Robert Half Technology's Chicago office, reports a need for Sharepoint developers, network administrators, network engineers, and desktop and helpdesk specialists. Are his clients hiring contractors, contract-to-hire or full-timers? "I'm getting it all, he says. 

Meanwhile, Troy Therien, Branch Manager of Sapphire's Des Plaines Office, says that as of late, his firm has seen a demand for .NET and Java skill-sets on the development side, while he also has seen a steady demand for project management. "We have also seen an increase in change management and ITIL specific roles." The strongest vertical in this area of the country include education, airlines, eCommerce, pharmacy, systems integrators and retail.

Margo Jadzak, managing director of COMSYS, which recently was purchased by ManPower Professional, has job orders for project managers, business analysts, Web developers, and application developers for .NET and Java. Helpdesk and Desktop work orders have been steady.

Chicago Job PostingsThe most active verticals are financial services and healthcare, with some reports that manufacturing and insurance are also strong.

In April, area job postings on Dice stood at 2,048, a 4.6 percent month-over-month rise, and 40.8 percent year-over-year increase.

Earlier this month, the city began a series of programs to teach unemployed middle-income workers new technology skills to make them more marketable, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chicago Career Tech targets mid-level managers, teachers, personal bankers and similar workers who lost their jobs during the recession. The initial class will focus on healthcare technological skills and information technology - the field with the most job openings in Chicago right now.

To qualify for the program, participants must live in the City of Chicago and have earned between $25,000 and $75,000 a year on their former jobs. Officials say about 30,000 city residents could qualify.  

-- Sonia R. Lelii