As the COVID-19 virus upends the economy and affects every aspect of our culture, how is it impacting the IT industry and workforce?
Chris Preimesberger at eWeek notes that more than 27,900 new IT jobs were posted in the first quarter of 2020, which includes the beginnings of the coronavirus shutdown in March. While the industry may be putting management hires on hold, technician jobs remain plentiful because of the widespread shift to at-home work. IT technicians – both in-house staff as well as contract labor – are in demand not just for supporting those employees now working full-time at home (which includes plenty of people very unfamiliar with IT processes) but also for developing new solutions to address the infrastructure challenges of working and collaborating remotely.
Nick Kolakowski from Dice.com agrees. Even as so many companies and business sectors contract at unprecedented levels, there remains a “pressing need” for technicians and technologists in light of the need to support the many remote teams and at-home employees spread across so many locations outside of the office. Even so, Dice reports that a recent survey shows that 57% of IT workers fear being laid off and 25% are looking for supplemental account. Further, forty percent think it could be between 6 and 12 months before life returns to normal.
Business Insider’s Aaron Holmes reports similar hiring trends at big tech companies, all of whom aggressively hired new workers during the 2008 recession. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple have recently increased their job postings as they look to hire more software engineers and developers, infrastructure technicians, and data scientists. Holmes notes that the closing of so many tech start-ups because of COVID-19 may have created a new pool of talent that might otherwise have been unavailable to the big tech companies.
Another perspective comes from ZDNet, where Jason Perlow explores ways that the COVID-19 crisis might transform technology and the workplace. The large-scale 5G rollout planned for 2020 will likely be put on hold. Bandwidth will become a precious resource to be conserved and protected, with perhaps internet traffic more closely regulated. Cloud computing will further cement itself as a critical infrastructure necessity. The devices and terminals people use may change as computing and work moves more and more to the cloud, perhaps spelling the end for many expensive laptops and desktops. Privacy concerns will need to be balanced with the public health need to maintain social distancing, maybe by using big data and AI in smartphone apps to minimize large group gatherings. Finally, the traditional 9-to-5 workday may evolve and grow more flexible as more people work from home.