Analyst: Demand for SAP skills keeps rising

Enterprise app skills demand up sharply, pushing skills pay more than 19% higher despite budget conservatism.

The ongoing demand for workers skilled in SAP technologies grew dramatically stronger in recent months, according to Foote Partners, an analyst firm that tracks pay rates for IT jobs.

"Employers are feeling more pain than ever in their search for skilled and experienced SAP talent. We expect this to continue for the next year and a half, and maybe longer, " CEO David Foote said in a detailed report on the firm's findings.

The report is based on pay premiums earned by 22,000 IT professionals in the US and Canada.

During the six months ended July 1, non-certified SAP skills showed the largest increases in pay, rising between 25 percent and 30 percent in some cases, according to Foote's data.

Pay is particularly going up for skills centered on SAP's NetWeaver platform, but the hiring environment is "not peaches and cream for those hanging on to their SAP ERP 4.6 or ERP 6.0 systems either," Foote said in the report.

However, SAP skills are far from the only ones in high demand.

Other areas showing strong upticks in pay during the first half of this year include Oracle, wireless networking, PHP development, business intelligence and network security, according to Foote.

Meanwhile, compensation for other skills dropped, the firm said. Pay for Lotus Notes/Domino and Exchange skills both fell 14.3 percent, for example.

As for SAP, company spokesman Saswato Das said via e-mail that a distinction should be made between SAP employees and the SAP consultants who work with the vendor's partners.

"As a result of the strong demand and market uptake for SAP solutions, there is a corresponding increased demand for IT consultants with SAP skills. We are actively working with our partners to build the pipeline to meet this demand," he wrote.

SAP and partners have certified 20,000 SAP professionals in the past 18 months, and the company is well on its way to reaching a goal of certifying 30,000 of them in 2008, according to Das.

Also, SAP itself has had little problem attracting enough qualified talent, he added.

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