Companies Still Struggling to Find Tech Talent

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The chief executive officer of Indiana's technology initiative says internships and real-world experience are key to bridging the industry's skills gap and filling hundreds of open positions. Mike Langellier says a new TechPoint study suggests there is often a disparity between what is taught in classrooms and what employees actually face in the real world. Langellier will discuss more study findings this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television. He says the issue can be addressed through more internship opportunities, and the organization will continue to work with companies to develop programs.

You can see the full report by clicking here.

December 2, 2014

News Release

Indianapolis, Ind. -- Findings released today by TechPoint, Indiana's technology growth initiative, in its second workforce report this year, show that tech companies in Central Indiana continue to face challenges in filling hundreds of open positions and need specific computer-related skills.

TechPoint derived data for the report from surveys of 26 area tech product, tech service and tech-enabled companies. The report, TechPoint Workforce Report: Defining the Demand – Tech Skills Central Indiana Companies Need to Grow, found that software developers with computer-related skills in languages and technologies like SQL, JavaScript, Ruby, CSS3 and HTML5 were most in demand. In addition, companies are seeking graphic designers, database administrators, web developers, and network and computer systems, all with varying skills.

However, 65 percent of the surveyed companies perceive a skills gap between available talent and the jobs they are looking to fill. Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed cite "real-world experience" and/or "internships" as areas that can help improve the quality of graduating tech talent.

"As a result of this feedback we've been evaluating how we can better align our company and university partners to reduce this gap," Mike Langellier, president and CEO of TechPoint said.

"Purdue University, Indiana University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the University of Notre Dame and Ball State University train thousands of students every year with computer-related talent. Through greater partnerships, collaboration and experimentation through programs like Xtern and Xpat, we have begun to optimize that training and more effectively attract and retain those talented individuals in Indiana companies."

Companies that already offer internships report that 71 percent of college student interns who decline full-time employment offers following their internships do so because of better offers outside of Indiana or a higher salary offer.

"These results beg additional questions as to whether these factors are real or perceived," Langellier said. "Is there really a compensation disparity or are we not doing a good job of understanding and articulating buying power and cost of living differences? Furthermore, are we losing on 'location' in part because we're not doing a good job of promoting opportunities and the virtues of our communities? These dynamics around attracting young talent are important to understand because 51 percent of the available positions at the companies participating in the survey are for candidates with five or fewer years of experience."

Central Indiana companies found that they "win" in the competition for talent by appealing to candidates with an Indiana connection. Eighty-one percent of companies surveyed indicate that at least eight out of ten of their tech employees are from Indiana or have an Indiana family connection. "In my opinion, we need a clearer, bolder place-making strategy and marketing message about Indiana as the best place to have a family and a career," Langellier said.

Another interesting finding was that only 54 percent of surveyed tech companies hire non-U.S. citizens citing cost, visa requirements and general complexity as barriers to hiring. This comes while Indiana's colleges and universities are attracting a large number of international students, with Purdue University leading the way. Purdue educates the second largest population of international students of any public university in the country, according to the Institute of International Education.

"Perhaps there is an opportunity to streamline costs and complexities and by doing so, place more computer-skilled international talent into our local companies," Langellier said.

There are several programs already in place that TechPoint has implemented to help combat the jobs gap. Its Xtern program focuses on retaining the best and brightest computer-skilled talent coming out of Indiana's universities, while its Xpat program targets 24-40 year old expatriates and out-of-towners with computer-related, sales, marketing and startup leadership skills.

This report is the second in a series of reports based on data from TechPoint's 2013 tech workforce study. A workforce report issued earlier this year by TechPoint, TechPoint Workforce Report: Employment Trends and the Demand for Computer-Related Talent in Central Indiana, showed the following:

--Computer-related employment from 2009-2012 in the Indianapolis-Carmel Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) grew 7.3 percent while job growth of all occupations in the same area grew 2 percent. That's compared to a decline of all occupations nationally of 0.3 percent for the same period of time.

--Software applications developers commanded a median salary of $77,700, more than twice the median salary for all occupations in the Indianapolis MSA, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012. Software developers design and create software including writing code in languages like JavaScript, SQL, HTML, C and Ruby.

--Companies like Interactive Intelligence and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) have obvious needs for tech talent. However, tech-enabled companies and organizations like Indiana University, Best Buy, Cummins and CNO Financial Group were among those posting the most jobs in 2013.

The company survey and workforce analysis were performed with assistance from Loyalty Research Center, Morris Lloyd & Associates, Hire Up Indy and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Lilly Endowment Inc. and Katz, Sapper & Miller provided research funding.

To access the full report, please visit www.techpoint.org/research.

About TechPoint

TechPoint is Indiana's technology growth initiative focused on being a powerful voice for Indiana's tech sector through marketing and thought leadership, and being a catalyst for strategic growth initiatives – including talent attraction, entrepreneur development and startup acceleration. Visit www.techpoint.org for more information.

Source: TechPoint