It’s no secret that finding skilled IT professionals is proving difficult in our current job market. But there may be a secret to being able to get the IT consultants or full time employees you need: untraditionally trained IT pros. After all, “It doesn’t matter where you learn to code, it should matter how good you are at writing code” (President Obama, March 9, 2015). The same could be said for other IT skills: it doesn’t matter where you learned them, it matters how good you are.
Half a million IT jobs are currently open in the United States and that number will increase if the tech industry continues to grow as projected. In fact, information and technology jobs make up about 12% of current job openings. Programming and application development is the hottest IT skill for 2015 and software developer roles are projected to grow 22 percent by 2020. Baby boomers, which make up 33% of IT professionals, will be retiring in the next few years leaving a substantial gap in experienced IT consultants and full time employees.
The White House recently released a statement about the gap between IT jobs and skilled IT workers with a plan to make education in IT more readily available to Americans. The goal is to help fill employer demand for talented people in the workforce while helping underserved communities with a program called TechHire Initiative. TechHire is offering 100 million dollars in grants to communities around the United States to implement its programs and objectives.
Minneapolis is among the twenty-one communities across the United States that have agreed to work alongside TechHire to implement three primary changes to education and hiring in their area. The City of Minneapolis, Concordia University, and several companies and non-profits within the Twin Cities have committed to expanding their hiring practices to hire those with non-traditional education and work experiences, create and expand training to prepare students in under a year, and connect these newly trained persons to jobs within the community.
Specifically, Minneapolis will be expanding three technology training programs and connecting with sixty companies to help educate 300 people this year. The goal of these efforts is to address the shortage of skilled technology professionals and meet the hiring demand for skilled workers.
Diversity in the workforce. One of TechHire’s main aims is to help bring more minority populations and women into the information and technology industry. Diversity in the workplace helps a company better market to its consumers, avoid employee turnover costs, and create a more creative and innovative business. According to an article by Matthew Heller at CFO.com, a workplace without a dominant gender is a happier, more productive workplace. By giving learning and training opportunities to populations that currently and traditionally have had barriers to education, the TechHire Initiative should help add diversity to the IT workforce, and by extension, your workplace.
More IT Pros, sooner. If the program is successful, Minneapolis could have an influx of highly skilled IT professionals within the next year. Talent could be coming to you with an education from accelerated training programs—like coding bootcamps—as well as traditional 2 and 4 year degrees. Are you prepared to hire professionals that are highly skilled, but do not fit into the “normal” HR requirements? It may be time to reflect on your current hiring specifications to help you hire individuals who have taken a non-traditional route. IT- Ready, Concordia University, and Prime Digital Academy are three coding boot camps available in the Twin Cities area. Java and .NET coding languages will be taught by Concordia University. Some of these coding boot camps are as short as 12 weeks, which means you can have skilled IT pros for entry level developer and support roles available to you in 3 months.
If you’re feeling the squeeze, there may be a light at the end of the hiring shortage tunnel. At least as long as you’re willing to take advantage of this secret: non-traditionally educated IT professionals with high potential are the skilled IT workers you’re looking for. You may be holding off on expansion or launching new projects because you have no one to bring in on a consulting or full time basis. TechHire’s objective is to get highly skilled workers from a variety of backgrounds into the job market as rapidly as possible. Look towards the light; you should have developers, engineers, and security specialists to add to your team by this time next year. Act fast; this secret won’t stay secret for long.