The economic news continues to be good for tech workers: Unemployment continues to decrease while new IT jobs are being added – and not just in technology hot spots. For example, Texas and Florida, along with California, were the top three states to add new jobs last year. Employers in all sectors are competing for candidates with technology and support skills.
To help fill some of the estimated 500,000 open technology positions in the United States, President Obama recently launched the TechHire Initiative. It aims to fast-track Americans to higher paying IT jobs by providing alternatives to a four-year computer science degree. The multi-sector TechHire program kicked off in 21 regions that will partner with employers to find new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their actual skills. At the same time, the program explores alternative training strategies such as coding boot camps, work-based learning and Registered Apprenticeship programs.
Supporting the Non-Traditional Candidate
A big focus is bringing in a more diverse selection of candidates, including women and minorities. One example of how this can work is Code Louisville. The greater Louisville, Kentucky, area is projected to have 2,000 new programmer and software developer jobs by 2020. The public/private partnership offers 12-week sessions that combine online training in coding with weekly in-person meetings with mentors from businesses. Once people complete the training, the business is encouraged to bring them on as contractors, interns or full-time employees. Just one of many examples is Erika Nielsen, who left the workforce to provide care for a sick relative, then worked a series of jobs such as grocery store cashier. She learned programming through Code Louisville and is now working as a web developer and tech-support specialist.
The White House is preparing to hold its first Tech Meetup on April 17. This event will bring together community organizers, local elected officials, professionals from the business community, entrepreneurs, funders and tech workers to share best practices. They’ll also have the opportunity to strategize on how to promote and grow the number of tech job offers made to young people and segments of the population who are currently not well represented in technology.
How Your Business can Prepare
The TechHire initiative is already beginning to send qualified candidates into the jobs pipeline. However, as this candidate pool continues to expand, employers may have to revamp their hiring practices to take advantage of it. To welcome and take advantage of these newly trained workers, employers may need to do a few things.
Re-evaluate job roles and skillsets:
Many TechHire candidates may have one or two certifications or programming languages. While it may be nice for a candidate to have a greater range, are there jobs within the company that could be a fit for them?
Adjust hiring criteria:
Traditional technical hiring criteria include a four-year computer-science degree and, often, several years of work experience. Employers need to determine in which cases these are truly necessary and where the lack of a degree and/or previous employment are not barriers. In addition, nontraditional candidates may have developed soft skills in unrelated occupations that are transferrable to IT.
Expand mentorship and on-the-job training:
TechHire candidates may be lacking in some skills that they could pick up in the course of employment. They also may be unfamiliar with tech culture. Providing experienced mentors and the opportunity to keep learning will help them get up to speed.
Provide diversity training to current staff:
The tech field is still overwhelmingly white, male and college-educated. Courses or information that helps current workers better understand nontraditional hires will make them feel included. Companies that are willing and able to overhaul hiring practices to welcome nontraditional candidates coming from TechHire and other community workforce development programs will gain a competitive edge in luring the best and brightest – no matter where they come from.
No matter what your hiring plan is for 2015 and beyond, we know that the competition for top tech talent will continue to increase. That’s why having Modis as your strategic partner is beneficial. We are always up-to-date on the latest hiring trends and programs and are dedicated to helping you understand the complex world of IT. Contact us today to find out how we can move your business forward and check out our 2015 Salary Guide for more tech hiring insights.