EAGAN, Minn. (WCCO) — Just when you thought the job market in the health field was red hot, there’s news to make you second-guess.

That’s after the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, announced deep job cuts to its information technology department.

The Eagan-based insurer will eliminate three-quarters of its IT staff by 2019. That will leave some 450 employees looking for work elsewhere.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Jim McManus said the company is moving “to new, more integrated technology systems.”

He added that as a result “support for older applications will no longer be needed.”

In a statement, the company said restructuring will result in the cutting of about 450 positions with the IT department over the next few years.

But don’t for a minute think that the IT field is dying.

“Couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact the IT field is exploding,” said Chris Locher, the vice president of software development at The Nerdery.

Locher says what we’re seeing is a natural evolution in the IT field. It’s a situation where skills are becoming a commodity as there is more of a general based knowledge in the specific fields. In addition, high technology platforms are designed to become more and more efficient, even automated in many instances.

“We build things in a completely different way, there’s more automation and what used to take four or five engineers to build, now with the tools, will take one engineer a month to build,” Locher said.

In addition, a move to more cloud-based storage outsourcing of IT services can save large companies huge dollars on their spreadsheets.

The planned job cuts at Blue Cross Blue Shield will be gradual, between 2016 and 2019.

But don’t expect those who will be unemployed to remain that way for very long.

“They should be optimistic,” said Angie Froistad, the assistant director of the Career Center at the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering.

According to Froistad, graduates there are still in high demand, especially in the fields of software development, IT security, web development and data analysis.

“We really can’t seem to graduate enough computer science students, the demand is incredible,” Froistad said.

Bill Hudson

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