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Asian Talent War Escalates<a name="section5"></a>

Companies looking to expand in Asia will likely face significant difficulties in recruiting and retaining skilled employees, according to a global research report from talent-management provider StepStone. Concluding that “the idea of Asia as low-cost utopia with an abundance of labor is long gone,” the report noted that skilled candidates are increasingly scarce. Suitable candidates are asking for higher wages and perceive that pay and benefits are better outside the region. Despite the difficulties, 44 per cent of all business leaders surveyed globally believed the Asia-Pacific region offered the best opportunities for revenue growth over the next three years.

Yahoo! To Trim Its Workforce<a name="section4"/>

With fourth-quarter profit down 23 percent and its future outlook cloudy, Yahoo! plans to lay off up to 1,000 people, about 7 percent of its 14,300-member workforce. President Sue Decker confirmed in the company’s Jan. 29 earnings release that Yahoo! is “making tough but necessary decisions to streamline our organization and redeploy assets to our most promising technology and marketing initiatives.” Yahoo! shares promptly sank to their lowest level in nearly four years, and the following day Microsoft made a $45 billion unsolicited takeover offer for the company. Co-founder Jerry Yang, who returned as CEO seven months ago, warned that Yahoo! “will continue to face headwinds this year.”

Foreign S&E Students Return<a name="section3"/>

More foreign graduate students are studying science and engineering, reversing the sharp declines experienced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The number of first-time foreign grad students studying S&E grew by 16 percent in 2006, following a 4 percent increase in 2005, according to the National Science Foundation. Despite the recent increases, enrollments for foreign S&E graduate students are still somewhat below the peaks seen earlier in the decade. The number of students studying S&E gives an indication of the number of people who might work in these fields after graduation. The percentage of foreign students among all S&E graduate students remained at the 2005 level of 29 percent but was down from 31 percent in 2003.

Staff Turnover Driving Outsourcing<a name="section2"/>

Continuous IT staff turnover rates of up to 20 percent are driving companies to embrace outsourcing, according to market-research company Gartner, which foresees the Indian IT services market ballooning to more than US $10 billion by 2011 at a five-year compounded annual growth rate of 23.2 per cent. The need to be agile, grow, innovate, and cut costs are other key factors behind companies choosing to hire external service providers. Some companies are even considering spinning off their own IT departments to take advantage of the demand for IT services. As companies become more mature in their approach towards IT, according to Gartner, they must rely on external providers to help them with consulting services. Increased adoption of remote infrastructure management services has driven the development of network and security operation centers, remote management centers, and other managed service offerings, the analyst firm said.

Microsoft Embraces Virtualization<a name="section1"/>

Microsoft articulated its vision for the fast-growing virtualization sector with the acquisition of graphics-technology provider Calista Technologies, an alliance with software developer Citrix Systems, and a companywide strategy to help accelerate the broad adoption of virtualization. As part of the Dynamic IT vision announced at Microsoft's Virtualization Deployment Summit, the company is offering more flexible licensing options for virtualization using Windows Vista, and new tools to deploy its virtualization software. Microsoft estimates that virtualization's high cost and complexity has prevented its adoption by all but about 5 percent of companies. Virtualization is the third-fastest-growing IT sector, behind storage and security, according to Boston-based 451 Group. Some 50 privately held companies operate in the virtualization-management field today, compared with only six major companies a year ago.

More Outsourcing on the Horizon

EquaTerra's fourth-quarter survey recorded a 19-percent year-over-year increase in outsourcing, with demand strong in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the US. Cost reduction was the main reason companies outsourced work. As the practice becomes entrenched, outsourcing is moving beyond IT—the leading area for outsourcing—to legal and knowledge process, document and electronic records management, and knowledge intensive services. In addition, outsourcing providers are offering better pricing and contracting terms, according to EquaTerra. The outsourcing advisor expects outsourcing to decline in the financial services sector over the short term, and Indian service providers to set up more local services centers.

Fortune: Google Is the Best Employer

Search giant Google topped Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the second year in a row. A prime reason for its selection was the company's policy of granting stock to 99 percent of its employees, with share prices hitting $700 last year. A number of other high-tech heavyweights made the list. Cisco Systems earned a No. 6 spot due to CEO John Chambers' leadership and his "On My Mind" blog, which solicits employee ideas. Qualcomm, which is quadrupling its popular onsite primary-care clinic, was deemed the eighth-best company to work for. Software developer Adobe won a No. 40 placing due to its climate of openness. Financial software maker Intuit was 43rd in recognition of its stock options and paid time off for community service. Online auction house eBay was named to the list for the first time at No. 68. Microsoft, where training and professional development are heavily stressed, was 86th on the list.

Memory Works Off its Oversupply

Worldwide semiconductor equipment spending is forecast at US $40.3 billion this year, a 9.9 percent drop from 2007 spending of US $44.8 billion as the industry remedies its oversupply in the memory market, according to Gartner. Although NAND flash spending will continue to ramp, foundry spending will languish. Fears of a US economic recession will created a more cautious spending climate overall. The quarterly picture for 2008 shows a weak first half of the year as DRAM companies slow their capital investments to help get the supply demand picture under control. In foundry, the drive to the next technology node will pick up steam, and Logic will need to invest to meet demand. Gartner sees this occurring in the second half of 2008, moving the industry into positive growth in 2009.

Mobile Communications Eats Up Time

Information technology departments are spending more time and resources supporting mobile communications and computing devices, particularly BlackBerrys, according to a recent poll by the Computing Technology Industry Association. Nearly two-thirds, or 65.7 percent, of the 816 respondents said their IT departments are spending more time and resources supporting the BlackBerry than any other comparable device. Pagers placed a distant second in the CompTIA web poll, at 10.9 percent. "The ability to access applications and data from virtually any location is a powerful tool that enhances efficiency and productivity," said John Venator, president and CEO of CompTIA. "But to take full advantage, organizations must employ IT professionals with a broad base of skills and professional certifications."

Long-Term Government IT Spending Flat

US government spending on IT will increase slightly this year but remain flat over the next five years, with expenditures shifting from solutions to infrastructure optimization and IT resource repurposing, according to the annual Top 10 Predictions report from Government Insights, a market-research firm.  Analysts say "Gov 2.0" will replace "e-Gov" as a buzzword as governments seek additional value from citizen interaction. Security breaches will drive governments to invest in secure content management systems for mobility. And workforce retirements will force governments to broaden the use of telework and reexamine sourcing strategies.

California Needs More Engineers

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed drawing 20,000 new engineers to the state's workforce over the next decade by expanding educational programs and building partnerships. The Labor and Workforce Development Agency projects a shortfall of almost 40,000 engineers by 2014 unless the state takes action.

State officials aim to establish programs at the University of California and California State University systems to expedite certification for the 3,000 or so veterans with engineering backgrounds that leave the service each year. New apprenticeship programs will be developed by community colleges and the private sector. An Engineering Education Council will be created to channel math and science students into the engineering field. In addition, California charter school organization High Tech High will be enlisted to develop engineering-focused charter schools.

Report Details Changing Education Patterns

While the number of engineering degrees awarded in many countries is on the decline, China in the past decade has seen a sixfold increase in the number of engineering degrees awarded, according to the US National Science Foundation's biennial Science and Engineering Indicators report. Besides documenting changing higher-education trends in science and engineering, the report outlines the US's eroding competitive position as other countries more fully embrace technology education. In 1980, for instance, the US accounted for 31 percent of individuals with tertiary education (technical school or an associate's degree). In 2000, that percentage had dipped to 27 percent. In contrast, the combined total of those with tertiary education in China, India, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand rose to 34 percent in 2000, up from 14 percent in 1980. In 1985, China awarded about 75,000 engineering degrees, but in 2004, that number approached 450,000, according to the 2008 Science and Engineering Indicators report. Growth has been fairly flat for engineering degrees awarded in Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the United States, with more moderate growth in the number of engineering degrees awarded in the UK.

Intel: Business Opportunities in Internet

Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini told attendees at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show that the Internet will continue disrupting the consumer electronics and entertainment industries, creating business opportunities for "those who embrace it."


As phones, TVs, and other consumer electronics devices connect to the Internet and take on more computing characteristics, microprocessors and the benefits of Moore's Law matter more than ever before, according to Otellini. "When computing became personal, the industry changed -- innovation, collaboration, and standards drove growth beyond what anyone could imagine," he said.


Otellini described four obstacles that need to be overcome to make sophisticated social-networking applications possible on mainstream computing devices. Microprocessors must be more powerful and consume less power. Wireless broadband infrastructure needs to be more broadly deployed. The Internet must be more intelligent and proactive so finding information is no longer a hit or miss proposition. And lastly, more natural user interfaces are needed so people can interact with the Internet using their voices and gestures.

Big Cities Ahead in High-Paying Jobs

According to TheLadders.com, which tracks hiring patterns in 20 major cities, the top markets for securing six-figure jobs are New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Chicago.


New York continues to attract the highest number of job seekers from other parts of the country. The odds of getting hired are also favorable in New York, with a 3-to-1 ratio of job seekers to job postings. Among the firms doing the most high-end hiring in the region are Pricewaterhouse Coopers, JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, and General Electric.


On the West Coast, the ratio of job seekers to available jobs is even stronger. Both San Francisco and San Diego currently boast a 2-to-1 ratio of job seekers to open positions. Companies doing the most high-end hiring in these markets include eBay, Google, Claritas and Intercontinental Hotels.


Tampa and Detroit continue to be among the tightest markets in the 20 markets that TheLadders.com tracks. Neither is currently drawing much attention from out-of-state job searches and there's stiff competition for available openings.

Outsourcing Power Shift Ahead for 2008

Attracting, developing, and retaining talented employees will be a major challenge for outsourcing providers in 2008, especially in India, according to the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, which also predicts that those working in outsourcing will be valued and better compensated. In addition, the association foresees power shifting from the small group of US-based service providers that have dominated the industry since its inception, including IBM, Electronic Data Systems, Computer Sciences Corp., and Accenture, to growing foreign companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, and Wipro. The trend is apparent in the association's annual ranking of outsourcing providers. For the past two years, IBM has topped the list, but Indian companies are rising in the top-10 rankings.

Virtualization Management Field Getting Crowded

Virtualization is the third-fastest-growing IT sector, behind storage and security, according to a report by Boston-based technology-industry analyst the 451 Group. A year ago, the virtualization-management field comprised only six major companies, in sharp contrast to the 50 privately held companies operating in the field today.


Rachel Chalmers, senior analyst for enterprise software at the 451 Group, foresees acquisition of VM companies -- especially in the automation and monitoring subsectors -- by major companies such as Microsoft, which has been behind in releasing its hypervisor, the software layer that lets physical machines run multiple virtual machines. Open source vendors Hewlett-Packard, Novell, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems, and Windows management specialists Avocent, BMC Software, Citrix Systems, Quest Software, and Symantec are also likely to turn to acquisitions to patch holes in their virtual-management portfolios, Chalmers noted.

Employment Index Down in December

The Monster Employment Index fell 14 points in December, reflecting a seasonal slowdown in recruitment, as well as further moderation in the job market. During the month, nearly all of the 20 industries and 23 occupational categories tracked lower for online job availability, compared with November.


The index in the mathematical and computer occupational category fell to 167 in December, down from 178 in November. It reached its 2007 peak of 189 in April.


Steve Pogorzelski, executive vice president of global sales and customer development at Monster Worldwide, attributed half of the index's December decline to seasonality, as employers scaled back hiring for the final month of the year.

Application Developers in Demand

Demand is high for application developers—especially programmers with AJAX, .Net, and PHP skills—as companies continue to Web-enable their existing applications, according to Computerworld magazine's first-half 2008 Vital Signs survey. Project managers with experience overseeing complex projects that deliver clear business benefits, quality assurance specialists, and professionals skilled at applying agile test-driven development techniques will also be sought after, said hiring managers. On-premises help desk and technical support workers -- especially those who are multilingual -- will be needed to support the new and increasingly complex applications being rolled out.


Security professionals with core credentials and government security clearances will remain in demand, especially those with experience on database and wireless security projects. Data-center employers should also be increasingly popular as data centers become more complex, automate, embrace virtual management, and seek to comply with new government regulations. Organizations will also be on the lookout for people with strong business acumen, be they specialized business analysts, business liaisons or application developers and technicians with business-specific knowledge. Also hot are skills in networking and telecommunications as companies continue to converge voice and data networks with wireless and voice-over-IP, the survey found.

Partnership for IT Students Developed

BMC Software and Republic Polytechnic have developed an academic program that will allow IT Service Management students to earn certifications while working in a data center. Students will use BMC Software's Remedy Service Management applications in Republic Polytechnic's new ITSM Practice Laboratory to measure and maintain IT service levels, as well as discover, understand, model, respond, and track IT system problems and business service failures. The program provides scenarios for students to directly experience how IT can be continually managed and coordinated to provide better service and support to the business.


As part of the program, students will be introduced to IT best practices, such as the IT Infrastructure Library and BMC's Business Service Management approach. BMC solutions are based on ITIL best practices, a growing discipline in Singapore and around the globe. Fueled by the increasing business demand on IT to provide better support for businesses and organizations, ITIL provides best practice guidelines to create an efficient and service-oriented IT infrastructure.

Hiring Down in Computer Sector

Online advertising for jobs in the computer and mathematics category has dropped by 7 points, or 4 percent, this year, according to Monster's November employment index, which fell by 5 points, reflecting a broad decline in online job availability across industries, occupations, regions and local markets. During November, just two of 20 industries and two of 23 occupational categories tracked by the index registered increased online job availability. As a result, the index's annual growth pace slipped to 4.6 percent, the lowest on record, indicating further deceleration in overall US online job demand.


Among industries, the utilities category registered the sharpest rate of increase in online job availability in November, edging up 12 points, or 7 percent. Online demand in the public administration industry also edged upward, gaining 4 points, or 2 percent. Offers in the finance and insurance industry also dipped, following months of reported layoff announcements in the mortgage industry and financial losses within the banking sector.

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