Maybe a pop culture reference is not the best way to get people's attention, but for many whose job it is to recruit and hire tech talent, there are moments when they feel no one is listening. And they're working to change that.
The leadership team at OST
knows as well as anyone the challenges of hiring technical talent in West Michigan. The firm has been on a growth and hiring binge for the last several years.
Most recently, OST has hired 41 employees since the beginning of 2014 and has 11 additional jobs open in Grand Rapids. But despite their success in hiring, they are also acutely aware of what the numbers say: that only a fraction of students are graduating with technical degrees that will qualify and prepare them for the projected 10,000-plus technology job openings in the state.
It is a job gap that leaves Tamara Iakiri, manager of talent acquisition at OST, a little bewildered at the opportunity that many students will be missing. "It's hard to comprehend," says Iakiri, that many students are not understanding the true opportunities for careers in I.T. where the starting salaries can ranges from $50,000 to $65,000. "We have to get the message out to parents, students and new grads about the tremendous potential in I.T."
To support her case, Iakiri shares the following statistics about technology careers:
-U.S. News 2014 Best Jobs Ranking: #1 - Software Developer
-Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22.8 percent employment growth 2012 - 2022
-Estimated 139,900 jobs will need to be filled
-2012 mean salary for a software developer was $93,000
In West Michigan:
-$82,904 is median salary in West MI (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA)
- By comparison, median household income in Grand Rapids is $50,658 (source: Census ACS)
"The comparison reinforces the point that high-tech jobs are well-paid jobs that can bring more discretionary income into the local economy. High-tech workers can easily afford to live in (the) region and even support their family as a sole breadwinner. This can lead to better quality of life and work/life balance," says Iakiri.
OST is not the only business in the area that shares these concerns. In fact, every large corporation, software development firm and startup in West Michigan is aware of the talent shortage.
To address the issue, Iakiri says that several area employers have teamed up to form West Michigan Tech Talent, a group that intends to create and implement a comprehensive plan to fill the pipeline for these jobs. "We have been meeting for four months and are focusing on three primary areas: grow,
focused on K-12 and exposing them to career opportunities in tech and providing them with development opportunities; develop,
focused on developing tech skills for current professional and those looking to make a career transition; and recruit,
focused on recruiting tech talent into the region. Current organizations leading the effort include Spectrum, OST, Atomic Object, Collective Idea, New Horizons, KISD, GRCC, Michigan Works, The Right Place, SEI, Elevator Up, and The Factory."
If you are interested in learning about this group, you can contact Iakiri at OST.
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor