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Spike in AI Job Postings Drives SMB IT Employment Surge

Hiring among small and medium-sized businesses in the tech services and software development sector continues, thanks in large part to a need to fill AI-related positions, a CompTIA report finds.

There was a consistent uptrend in hiring among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) within the tech services sector at the end of 2023, particularly in the areas of PC manufacturing, semiconductor, components manufacturing, telecommunications, cloud infrastructure, data processing, and hosting.

These were among the results of CompTIA's December analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report data, which also found that total employment in the tech sector remained effectively the same from November.

California (15,193), Texas (14,403), and Virginia (10,103) emerged as the states with the highest volumes of tech job postings, while Washington, New York, Dallas, and Chicago led the way among metropolitan markets.

The most active industry sectors for tech job postings included professional, scientific and technical services, administrative and support, manufacturing, finance and insurance, and information sectors.

Within the tech services and software development sector, there was an estimated addition of 2,900 new employees, with the sector showing signs of growth for nine out of the first 11 months of 2023.

Notably, almost all entities (99.9%) in this segment are classified as SMBs, contributing significantly, accounting for 84% of the overall employment in the tech services and software sector.

The report noted roles associated with cloud infrastructure have seen a positive trajectory over seven consecutive months.

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Seth Robinson, vice president of industry research at CompTIA, said SMBs face a unique challenge as they are under pressure to add cutting-edge skills to keep up with the market, yet they often do not have the budget or organizational structure to focus on a wide range of individual specialists.

"For SMBs, the focus on a skills-based approach is possibly more critical than for larger firms," he explained.

Without the luxury of filling specialized job roles that can address a range of relevant skills, SMBs must identify those skills that are the most critical and then use upskilling and reskilling to add these skills to existing workers.

"This may result in the evolution of job roles rather than the creation of new ones, but it will help the organization develop the best approach to fit both their needs and their constraints," Robinson said.

Search for AI Talent Cuts Across Country

Job postings for tech positions reached a total of 155,621 during the month, with positions in artificial intelligence (AI) contributing 12% of the aggregate, crossing the 10% threshold for the first time and totaling over 18,000 postings.

The top states for AI job postings included California in the pole position, followed by Texas, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois.

The analysis found roles requiring expertise in emerging technologies — of which AI is among them — constituted more than a quarter (26%) of all tech job postings in November 2023.

The employment landscape within the tech industry witnessed notable movements in specific segments, with PC manufacturing and semiconductor manufacturing adding 800 jobs, bringing their total employment count to 1,098,900.

Cloud infrastructure, data processing, and hosting sectors saw an increase of 600 jobs, reaching a combined employment figure of 493,700.

Notably, IT and custom software services, alongside systems design, exhibited steady growth with an addition of 2,900 jobs, amassing a total employment count of 2,521,900.

Shifting From Tactical IT to Strategic IT

Robinson noted that over the past decade, the economy has seen a distinct shift from tactical IT to strategic IT.

"This means that more and more organizations are taking a new approach to technology, where it is being directly used to meet objectives and investments are growing far beyond a typical cost center mindset," he said. "Most SMBs have been heavily tactical with their technology, so the shift to a strategic approach will take some work."

From his perspective, there are two primary concerns with shifting to strategic IT: First, discussions on business activity and technology initiatives must be woven together.

"This means that business managers must learn more about technology systems and that technical representatives should be part of business planning, whether those representatives are internal employees or external partners," Robinson explained.

Second, technology discussions should be grounded in a systems mindset.

"This means that all parts of a technology solution — infrastructure, software, data, and cybersecurity — are part of a decision so that the appropriate risks can be considered, and trade-offs can be made," he said.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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