Job market red hot for those with the right skills

September 7, 2014

Jay Fitzgerald

As Bentley University’s director of undergraduate career services, Len Morrison is expecting a very busy autumn of on-campus recruiting by companies.

A major accounting firm already has signaled that it wants to hire 24 Bentley students, ideally signing them before they graduate next May. Meanwhile, the Waltham university’s career fair in October is close to sold out, as firms desperately seek talent.

“There’s almost a feeding frenzy for candidates with the right backgrounds,” said Morrison.

The job market in Massachusetts has heated up this year and should stay that way through the rest of the year, barring any unexpected economic, foreign policy, or other calamity, Morrison and economists agree.

The state unemployment rate, 5.6 percent, is near the six-year low as the state has added nearly 70,000 jobs over the past year, a pace not seen since the dot-com boom at the beginning of the century. Earlier this year, the state surpassed the all-time employment record reached just before the boom went bust in early 2001.

“The job picture looks better than it has in a while,” said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University. “But you have to have the right skills. That’s the key. You have to have the right skills.”

The information technology sector has boomed for a number of years now, creating a shortage of workers with degrees and experience in the computer sciences. From startups to established tech firms, companies can’t find enough qualified IT workers for their needs, said Brendan King, chief executive of King & Bishop Inc., a Waltham recruiting company.

Industry officials say demand is so high for software engineers that entry-level salaries now start around $75,000 — if not higher.

“Actually, just about all companies need good software engineers,” said King, whose firm has added three recruiters over the past year to handle increased demand from companies.