Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa, Jim Offner column [Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa]
(Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 20--It's almost a cliche: If you have specialized training and are looking for work or a higher pay threshold, there are good-paying jobs available to you.
That's one of the ideas behind the Skilled Iowa program, which is designed to get specially trained workers into 21st century advanced manufacturing jobs.
Starting salaries are projected to increase by an average of 3.7 percent next year in specialized areas like accounting, information technology and software development, according to San Ramon, Calif.-based Robert Half International, a professional staffing agency that has three Iowa offices.
Those numbers are national averages, but they can translate to markets like Waterloo-Cedar Falls, which is a haven for jobs in those fields, said Mike Gremmer, Robert Half's Des Moines-based regional vice president.
"When you look across the different lines of business we service, through 2014, most of them are going up," said Gremmer, whose firm specializes in accounting/finance and IT placement. "Some have stayed consistent, but in accounting/finance and IT, you're seeing 3.4 to 3.7 increases in salary."
Focused expertise within those fields is going to command even higher pay rates, Gremmer said.
"If you dig through more unique skill sets -- financial analyst, senior staff accountant, comptroller, compliance officer -- those will be upwards of 5 percent," he said. "In IT, some positions, like business intelligence analysts, software and mobile app developers, are upwards of 7 percent."
IT talent is among the most highly sought, especially in areas like moble app and software development, Gremmer said.
The more finely tuned the skill, the better, Gremmer said.
But, he said, employers also are looking for so-called "soft skills."
"You can have all the technical skills in the world, but that's no guarantee you'll be good in your job," he said. "They look for people with good communication skills, such as listening, or even likability, or an ability to work within a team or strong initiative."
Companies are starting to recognize the importance of holding onto the talent they have, Gremmer said. He says job seekers with sharpened skills are more able now than just a few years ago to pick and choose among potential employers.
"Candidates with specific skill sets just have more options," he said. "If you look back five years since the financial crisis, some employers have this false sense that the national unemployment rate is higher now and they're more in control; in reality, they're not."
Employers take note: It's becoming a "candidates' market," which means job seekers with the right combination of talents are able to choose among numerous suitors, according to Gremmer.
"In the event you have an individual that you're interviewing for a position, you'd better be prepared to move quickly, because candidates are moving quickly and many times are having multiple offers," he said.
Iowa's unemployment rate, which has been consistently among the lowest in the U.S., more than likely won't change that scenario, Gremmer said.
Amid talk of a stagnant economy, with costs continuing to spiral upward and wage rates remaining inert, there appear to be certain segments of the workforce that are showing some welcome signs of dynamism.
(c)2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
Visit Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) at www.wcfcourier.com
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