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IT hiring to rise slightly

The number of CIOs who expect to increase their IT staff by the end of the year rose slightly, according to a study released today.

The number of chief information officers who expect to increase their information technology staff by the end of the year rose slightly, as Year 2000 problems and networking fueled the need to hire more IT workers, according to a study released today.

RHI Consulting, a firm that specializes in placing temporary technology workers, found that 27 percent of CIOs surveyed said they planned to increase their IT staff by the end of the year. That figure is up slightly from 26 percent during the second half of the year.

RHI surveyed 1,400 CIOs nationwide at U.S. companies with more than 100 employees.

The survey also found that 1 percent of CIOs surveyed planned to reduce their IT workforce during the fourth quarter, which is down a tad from the 2 percent who did so during the second quarter.

"There has been a steady sloping demand year-over-year for IT hiring and it will continue," said Greg Scileppi, RHI executive director. "Year 2000 issues will continue to drive hiring, and so will networking computing."

The survey cited finance, insurance, and real estate as the industries in which CIOs were planning the most hiring for the fourth quarter. Fifty-eight percent of CIOs surveyed in these areas said they expected to expand their IT staff, while 2 percent said their IT staff would be reduced.

"The survey indicates that across-the-board hiring is strong," Scileppi said. "But these particular sectors are fueled by a robust economy, where people want to build or invest."

Despite a slight improvement in the hiring outlook for IT workers, however, the majority of CIOs surveyed said they plan no change in their IT hiring during the fourth quarter.

Greg Selker, a senior vice president and principal with executive search firm Christian & Timbers, said he was surprised by the survey results. He said he would have predicted higher figures for increased hiring.

He estimated that executive searches for CIOs rose between 30 to 50 percent during the past six months.

"There has been a lot of searches for banking, finance, and retail, but not so much for real estate," he said.

He added that, due to the changing role of the CIO, positions that traditionally would have fallen into an information services department and the purview of the CIO, such as a company?s Webmaster and related support, are now placed in the marketing department often times.

"Some of the CIOs answering the survey may be responding based on the area they are responsible for, but that area may be smaller," Selker said.

Scileppi agreed that the role of the CIO is changing, but noted it may not necessarily be diminishing.

"CIOs are becoming less involved with operations and more a visionary for the company in its efforts to compete technologically," he said. "We see a bridging of the gap between the IS and finance departments."