Earlier this week I spoke with John Baschab, senior vice president of management services for IT staffing firm Technisource. He believes that IT employment, on the whole, has stabilized, and in some areas (such as application development and project management) is starting to pick up, based on staffing requests his company is getting from clients.Ironically, rising healthcare and unemployment costs are contributing to the improving IT employment outlook. Baschab says companies are beginning to invest in capital projects aimed at automation to lower their increasing labor costs. They need IT professionals\u2014both full-time and contract\u2014to design, develop, plan, manage and implement these automation projects. "We think you'll see more IT projects getting done, typically on the applications side," says Baschab, citing a 70\/30 ratio of applications to infrastructure projects. Not surprisingly, the IT workers who stand to benefit the most from this automation trend include application developers, project managers (particularly those with PMI certifications), business analysts and IT architects, says Baschab. (For more information on hot IT jobs, see Four Kinds of IT Professionals CIOs Need to Hire Now)Less fortunate will be infrastructure workers. "We see a lot of companies interested in outsourcing infrastructure: server monitoring, data center management, help desk, service desk," he adds. Another trend that Baschab says will affect IT employment is companies' move toward variable staffing models and increased use contingent or contract staff, as opposed to hiring full-time workers. "There's still a certain amount of economic uncertainty, and companies are keeping their options open," he says. "One way to do that is to have a slightly higher contingent labor pool in your company."Baschab is quick to add that Technisource is still seeing "plenty of full-time hiring, especially in planning skillsets like business analysts and architects. But the heavy lifting on projects will get done by variable, contingent labor." He predicts IT employment will get a boost during the second half of the year, when automation projects go from planning mode to design and development. "You'll see [IT workers'] optimism pick up as we move into the design and development phases of these projects. You'll see that in second half of this year." For more stories on the IT job market, see Prepare for Talent Wars, IT Poaching, Dice.com Warns\u00a0and As Cloud Grows, IT Hiring Flatlines.