Hiring may be picking up in Silicon Valley, but the biggest IT gold rush is towards Washington DC and the US defense sector.
A surge in defense spending as the US fights its war on terrorism has combined with a scarcity of workers with security clearances, to push up salaries in the sector, according to the CEO of tech recruitment site, Dice.com.
Scot Melland said that tech hiring overall was on an upward swing this year, as organizations increase spending on technology. A shift from contracting gigs to ads for full timers underscored companies’ willingness to stump up cash in a bid to secure scarce skills, he said.
Washington DC has emerged as one of the hottest markets, he said, alongside New York and the Bay Area. But as well as searching for techies with in demand skills, such as Linux expertise, DC’s government and defense industry recruiters face the added complication of finding individuals with appropriate security clearances.
Traditionally it took around six months to gain security clearance, but that period has stretched out to around two years.
And while tech shops in other markets can always consider bringing in technicians from overseas or offshoring the work altogether, that clearly isn’t an option for sensitive work.
The upshot, said Melland, is If you’re a tech professional with security clearance, you can write own check.
He added that organizations will even go so far as to recruit individuals with security clearances but no tech qualifications and train themselves.
While the defense sector may be facing a skills crunch now, the US tech sector as a whole could face a skills shortage within two years, Scott added.
US universities are producing fewer technology and engineering graduates he said. In addition, immigration restrictions mean fewer foreign students are taking up places on technology courses – in past years, academic IT departments recruited large numbers of overseas students, who would eventually find their way into the US technology workforce. Lastly, trimming of the H1B and other visa programs in the wake of the US recession, meant that companies could not look overseas for suitable candidates.
In 12 to 24 months, said, we could have a crunch.