Tech’s Top Job Stories of 2012

Before the ball drops on Times Square to usher in 2013, let’s reminisce about a bit about the events that marked 2012—lots of firing but also some hiring. Here are our 10 top stories about IT jobs in 2012, in no particular order.

2012 calendarLinux is hot — In a poll released in February, 81 percent of hiring managers said hiring Linux talent was a priority. Sixty-three percent said Linux hires were increasing relative to jobs in other skill areas, and 85 percent reported having difficulty finding qualified professionals to fill these positions, boosting salaries and bonuses. Dice and The Linux Foundation collaborated on the poll of 2,000 IT hiring mangers.

HP layoffs — In May, the ax fell at Hewlett-Packard when the company said it would cut 27,000 jobs globally—9,000 of them in the United States. In September, it boosted the number by 2,000. Then, in August, CEO Meg Whitman created a stir when she told HP’s Indian workers that their jobs would be spared. A hint of HP’s most recent controversy came surfaced in May as part of the layoff announcement: The company fired Mike Lynch, the co-founder and CEO of its $10.3 billion acquisition, U.K.-based Autonomy. HP now claims Autonomy cooked the books to appear more attractive for acquisition, allegations that Lynch denies.

GM hits reverse on outsourcing — Citing a need for IT with a better understanding of the business, General Motors in July announced it will move 90 percent of its IT services work in-house. It announced two of three planned innovation centers—one in Austin, Texas, where it plans to hire 500 IT workers, and one in Warren, Mich., where it plans to add 1,500 high-tech workers. In October, GM also said it would put 3,000 HP employees who had been working on GM’s account on its payroll.

RIM doubles down on BB10 — Research in Motion bet the farm and everything else on BlackBerry 10 as it fought declining market share. The company’s been both shoring up and paring down its ranks, saying it would cut 5,000 jobs. The layoffs are said to be ongoing, with 3,000 let go in August and about 200 in Irving, Texas, given pink slips in November. Though repeated delays meant BB10 means it will miss the holiday buying season, two phones will debut Jan. 30, and early reviews have been positive. The question is whether they will prove too, little too late for the struggling company.

It’s a consultant’s market — The use of flexible IT staffing is more the norm these days, with consultants having specific expertise in high demand. Two categories tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have been consistent bright spots in some otherwise lackluster jobs reports: Computer System Design and Related Services added 77,900 positions between November 2011 and November 2012, while Management and Technical Consulting Services grew by 59,100 jobs in that period. Even more good news: Dice reports that consultants make on average at least $20,000 more than their full-time counterparts.

More layoffs — At Motorola Mobility, 4,000 jobs were axed in an acquisition by Google; 2,000 jobs were lost at Yahoo; 1,700 at AMD, with more rumored for January; and 1,900 at T-Mobile. More job losses at IBM, Sprint, Verizon, AOL, Zynga, Electronic Arts—the list goes on. The job cuts fell hardest on workers in hardware. Through November, the computer industry had announced 45,060 job cuts, compared with 14,598 in the same period in 2011, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But remember, HP’s 29,000 make up the bulk of that.

Android demand soars — Dice reported that by October, demand for Android developers had reached an all-time high, with listings up 33 percent year over year. The operating system had 75 percent of worldwide market share, according to IDC, a feat it achieved in just four years. Other skills at record highs on Dice: quality assurance, Python, Ruby, JBoss and virtualization.

Oracle-Google lawsuit — When Oracle sued Google claiming copyright infringement in the use of Java in the Android operating system, it raised the possibility that every Android developer worldwide might have to rewrite his code. But the jury sided with Google, and Judge William Alsup ruled that Oracle cannot apply copyright protection to Java APIs, and no money changed hands—except that sent to the lawyers.

Those sexy statisticians — Those with the right mix of business, analytics, and IT, or “baIT” skills, as blogger Don Willmott put it, are expected to have the sexiest job of the 21st Century. That should make Columbus, Ohio, über attractive. IBM announced in late November plans to open an analytics center there focused on Big Data, analytics and cognitive computing, a collaborative affair with Ohio State University and area businesses. Big Blue plans to add 500 positions there over the next three years. Some recruiters report there’s more talk about Big Data at this point than actual hiring taking place, but that could be because “sexy” translates to “expensive.” Tom Davenport, a visiting professor at Harvard Business School, told The Wall Street Journal that some data scientists make $300,000 a year, adding that’s “pretty good for somebody that doesn’t have anyone else working for them.”

Low unemployment — And though the national unemployment rate has remained stubbornly high (7.7 percent in November), the employment picture remains far brighter for tech. The unemployment rate for IT professionals dropped in the third quarter to 3.3 percent, compared with 4.2 percent in the same quarter of 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Dice report pointed to six professions in particular in which unemployment declined in the third quarter. Their rates:

  • Software developers — 2.3 percent
  • Web developers — 4.3 percent
  • Database administrators — 3.1 percent
  • Computer and information systems managers — 2.2 percent
  • Computer support specialists — 6 percent
  • Network and systems administrators — 1.7 percent

Did we miss something? Tell us your biggest stories by making a comment below.

Image: Year 2012 [Bigstock]