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Study: Tech skills bringing in bigger bucks

Employers are dishing out more dollars to IT workers amid "concerns about retention of talent," study shows.

Pay for technical skills is increasing amid concerns about retaining employees, according to a study released Monday.

Pay for certified technical skills grew 6 percent in the first three months of 2005 and 4 percent for the 12 months ended April 1, said research consultancy Foote Partners. The study of market values for more than 170 skills involved 48,000 IT workers in North America and Europe, according to Foote Partners.

Several factors are behind the rise in pay for skills, said David Foote, the firm's co-founder and president. "Probably the most obvious has been the economy and the return of hiring and concerns about retention of talent connected to legacy systems and critical technology and business initiatives," Foote said in a statement. "But it's really much more than that...Employers are once again investing in onshore applications development skills notwithstanding their desire to offshore some applications and business processes."

News about pay for technology workers has been mixed recently. The same is true about reports on employment for techies and predictions about the future of such careers.

Last fall, an analyst at research firm Gartner predicted a shortage of technology professionals in the United States in the near future, thanks to factors such as declining student interest in the tech field.

But a study in 2004 from research organization Rand did not find evidence that shortages of scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics personnel in the U.S. work force were on the horizon. And recently Gartner predicted that by 2010, the number of IT staff in the profession will shrink by 15 percent.

According to the latest Foote study, companies are keen to see more than just tech skills. Employers are "demanding more industry-specific experience to go with tech skills mastery, and even systems-specific solutions experience within an industry, which is a fairly new development on the scale that we've been seeing it," Foote said in a statement.