Recently, I had the opportunity to serve on a panel of business leaders to discuss how to build a technology work force. As we all know, all facets of our economy continue to deploy technology to improve quality and efficiency. In addition to implementing new technology in a business, it is vital to attract and retain technology talent.
The panel shared its perspectives regarding the roles of the private sector, educational institutions, trade associations and governmental entities in the process of developing a technology workforce.
What roles can the private sector, educational institutions, trade associations and governmental entities play in helping to build a technology workforce?
1. Communicate its workforce needs to educational entities to help them prepare people for jobs.
2. Create internship and career paths for prospective employees.
3. Provide employees freedom and flexibility to perform their work.
4. Invest in employees by paying for on-going education, certifications and credentials.
5. Purchase and implement technology tools to help employees be more efficient in their jobs.
1. Develop curriculum to support the skill sets required in new employees by technology companies.
2. Mobilize quickly to respond to the needs of business.
3. Focus on increasing options for certification, credential and job specific programs to enhance human capital.
4. Collaborate with the private sector to offer educational services at business locations and other areas in the community.
5. Introduce more vocational and technical educational opportunities at the high school level to support different career paths.
1. Convene the private sector, educational institutions and governmental entities to establish workforce development priorities.
2. Develop human capital public policy ideas to present to executive and legislative branches of government.
3. Work with its membership to gather data regarding gaps in skill sets for the fastest growing technology jobs in the area.
4. Foster the formation of non-traditional partnerships between entities to create an environment for competitors to work together to build human capital capacity.
5. Track and report information to promote results of workforce development efforts.
1. Provide funding support to encourage the development of human capital in the marketplace.
2. Develop quality of life amenities that encourage technology workers to live and work in a geographic area.
3. Foster a welcoming and tolerant environment to support a diverse workforce.
4. Structure the use of public dollars to encourage flexibility and speed to implement workforce development initiatives for the technology industry.
5. Reward educational entities for their efforts to adopt human capital initiatives and generate measurable positive results.
There are a couple of examples of initiatives that have been launched in the United States to bring together these four different areas of our economy. While it is important for each community, region and/or state to determine the best approach for their market, these examples are illustrative in exploring ways to build human capital in an area.
In the State of Iowa, the private sector, educational institutions, trade associations and governmental entities came together to identify ways to try to attract technology workers to their state. Leaders in Iowa recognized that many of the talented students that grew up and/or graduated from educational institutions in the state, decided to move to one of the coasts to experience a different area as they launched their careers. As these young professionals move forward in their lives and start a family, many wish to move back closer to home to be near their families. As a result, these talented young professionals are looking for exciting opportunities with businesses. These entities provided dollars and personnel to hold events in the cities on the coasts with the highest percentage of college graduates from their area. These events provide businesses with an opportunity to talk about the exciting things their companies are doing, the culture of their organizations and the opportunities to utilize technology in their businesses. By building awareness, this program has helped bring young talented professionals back to Iowa.
The Austin, Texas region has also convened these same four groups to identify ways to tell the story of their area to technology professionals that may be attracted to live and work in their community. This initiative has largely been focused on California, specifically, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area. Austin talks a lot about the "coolness" of their region based upon its confluence of education, technology, music, cost of living and quality of life. The region has been very effective in getting companies to open a new site in or relocate an existing operation to their area. Our firm has two clients that have located new facilities in the Austin metropolitan area. During the process to determine the best location for these new operations, the workforce of these two clients ranked Austin as the best location outside of California to live and work.
While there are sometimes challenges in bringing these four different community groups together to identify the best ways to build, attract and retain a technology workforce, it can and has been done. Collaboration is sometimes an over used word in the world today, but when it comes to workforce development, particularly in the technology sector, it is absolutely required. The communities, regions and states that do the best job of bringing these groups together, identifying key initiatives and implementing programs, will be the best positioned for long-term success.
Larry Gigerich serves as Managing Director of Ginovus. Ginovus is a leading provider of national site selection, community comparative analysis and economic development incentive procurement & management services to private sector, educational, governmental and not-for-profit organizations throughout North America. Ginovus is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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