Compiled ByDave Schafer The cooling economy hasn't chilled the demand for information technology (IT) workers, a new survey reveals. The META Group Inc. surveyed 500 American corporations for its 2001 IT Staffing and Compensation Guide and found businesses are struggling to fill some 600,000 IT positions. META says the worker shortfall reflects the labor market's inability to fill a demand for employees with specialized IT skills in such areas as networking, database management, supply-chain collaboration, business-to-business integration, and commerce-chain management. The employment gap of 600,000 workers represents a degree of staffing relief for employers. In 2000 the gap was nearly 1 million, says META, an IT research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Conn. The study also found technology workers are enjoying a rapidly widening pay advantage over their non-IT counterparts. Of the study's respondents, 68% said they pay IT employees more than non-IT employees, and 60% said they offer bonuses to IT employees. "This year's study reveals that employers have not yet adopted human-capital management as a core competency to cope with their critical staffing and skill-management challenges," says Maria Schafer, program director, META Executive Services division. "Organizations should devise effective policies for deriving maximum value from their vital, human-capital assets. IT organizations continue to be primarily focused on technology and technical skills while overlooking other critical human factors, yet people are the strategic determinants of the IT value chain."