IT job employment has been picking up, and the jobs that are most in demand favor young as well as older workers, according to Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), which runs a large IT skills certification program.
Thibodeaux says there is high demand for IT workers, particularly for those who can build mobile applications, work on a combination of security and cloud computing platforms, and handle cloud integration generally. People familiar with various cloud platforms, such as those run by Google, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as healthcare specialists and electronic medical records integrators, are also in demand.
While the mobile realm favors the young, "cloud and healthcare may be favoring older and more seasoned workers," said Thibodeaux.
The age issue is likely to gain importance because of the sheer size of the baby boom generation -- people born between 1946 and 1964, who make up more than 25% of the U.S. population and a substantial segment of the IT workforce. The federal government reports that people between 45 and 63 years of age accounted for 60% of its IT workforce in 2008, according to a federal study last year.
Farrokh Hormozi, a professor of economics and public administration at Pace University in New York, said the unemployment rates for older workers are what he would have expected.
"Older people have less opportunity to get back to the job market than younger people," said Hormozi, who tracks IT employment in the New York region as co-investigator of the Pace SkillProof IT Index.
The only time when older people could go into the job market and readily find work was during the boom years of the mid-1990s leading up to 2000, he said. "If you discount those years, the labor market has not been acting unexpectedly," said Hormozi.
"I hate to say it is human nature," said Hormozi, but "you always want to give an opportunity to younger people."