Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Finding the best technical employees: It’s less about who and more about training.

Our blog has moved. You will find this blog post and fresh content on our new Talascend IT blog.

I was recently reading an article about informatics Baccalaureate programs that are emerging to help meet current and future demands of HCO’s and insurers with highly specific IT program needs. The story sparked a different, yet simple, idea to solving the problem of IT skill shortages in my mind.

How is your company dealing with the IT skills shortage?
My company works in both the engineering and technical sectors. The demand for engineers is high as baby boomers begin to retire and due to the fact that many members of the gen X, Millennial and Z workforce opted for careers in information technology as it was seen as a more lucrative path to follow.

The same can be said for certain sectors of IT today. Healthcare IT and mobile app developers have a unique shortage of skilled professionals on their hands because technologies are literally emerging every day.

We have very competent, very talented system admins, QA professionals, and programmers out in the job market and we still have industries telling us, as a staffing firm, that there is a shortage of available, qualified IT talent. They’re right; a shortage exists and they may be partly to blame.

Just as with engineering, the IT sector has a number of quality candidates in the marketplace actively seeking work, whether it’s for contract or long term positions. Yet there are still many capable, sometimes brilliant IT minds that go unemployed, underemployed or under-engaged in their work because they do not meet a niche skill set on a sheet of paper.

Obviously these professionals have an aptitude for learning new systems. After all, they are professionals in an industry where change is the norm.

So what’s the answer?

It’s simple: Training.

Many businesses have the mindset that IT pros should get the training on their own because they’ll probably jump ship before any sort of ROI is realized. I think the opposite is true; offer the training and you’ll retain your talent. Also, without input from business, how is an IT pro supposed to know what type of specialized training to invest in, if the specialized training even exists?

We have to get business, professionals, colleges and K-12 systems together to come up with a plan to develop our future workforce.  In the meantime, business can do a lot to help itself to a bumper crop of IT professionals if they put some resources toward training on new skill sets.

For example, we’re in the midst of developing a program plan to bring businesses together with trainers and mainstream programming professionals. Businesses tell us they need mobile app professionals now because mobile device use and available apps are increasing at an exponential rate. They also tell us there is a very distinct skill shortage. Training companies need customers. The programmers, with years of demonstrated success in platforms closely related to mobile app development (Java, C++, etc), get to learn a new, in-demand skill set to which they can apply their years of experience in the logic of programming.

A college grad can be great. But nothing can replace those years of experience backing the seasoned IT pros.

If you or your company seem to be wondering how you're going to deal with the skills shortage, the answer might be as simple as providing IT training.