Led by programmers and project managers, the demand for hi-tech workers in the fourth quarter of 2007 rose 2.3 percent above figures from the previous quarter and 0.6% above numbers from the fourth quarter of 2006, the Manpower Information Technology company reported this week. The demand for programmers rose 7.7% in the last quarter of 2007, while demand for project managers jumped 10.3%. However, the demand for systems managers and support staff fell 6.9%, while demand for engineers dropped 0.5%, Manpower Information Technology (MIT) said in its report. "Over the last year we saw an increasing trend among companies to hire more hi-tech workers," MIT director-general Erez Benovitz said. "The rise in requests was mostly centered around hi-tech workers in the telecommunications, insurance, finance and banking sectors. But we also saw an increase in demand from start-up companies, mostly in the cellular technology, clean-tech and biotech sectors." According to the MIT report, demand for hi-tech workers in banking, finance and insurance last year rose 8% above 2006 numbers. The increased demand came mostly as a result of various regulatory standards that were introduced over the last year, MIT said, forcing the country's largest companies in these sectors to overhaul their information technology infrastructure and systems. Additionally, the introduction of the Communications Ministry's number portability program in December led to an increase in demand of 5% for Middleware technicians. The demand for project managers in 2007 rose 6%, with some of the world's largest software companies, including Oracle, SAP and Mircrosoft, hiring significant numbers in their Israel headquarters. Some of Israel's largest technology companies also increased hiring in 2007. "We are talking about the country's largest technology companies hiring large numbers of IT workers, and these companies are working on some of the biggest projects around the world," Benovitz said. "They are most likely to continue to hire more software engineers and other IT workers to help them gain more of a stronghold in the international market and compete for the biggest projects." MIT is a member of the international Manpower Inc., and is a subsidiary of Manpower Israel. It specializes in providing professional services to programmers, system analysts, project managers, system managers, networking experts, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists and biologists. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) recently reported that salaries in the hi-tech industry continued to grow in 2007. Salaries in the four leading hi-tech sectors rose by 1.3%-6.5% in the first part of the year, while the average national salary fell by 2%. The average monthly salary in the telecommunications sector rose NIS 1,245, or 6.5%, to NIS 20,334 in 2007. The average monthly salary in the R&D industry rose 1.3% to NIS 19,312. The average monthly salary in the medical and bio-equipment sector increased 1.3% to NIS 18,111, while the average monthly salary in the computer services sector rose NIS 505, or 3.1%, to NIS 17,015, the CBS reported.