It’s not only a hot time of year temperature-wise but it’s also a hot time of year to be talking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) talent and where companies can find new pools of talent for their growing IT needs. With a nationwide STEM talent shortage impacting companies across multiple industries and sectors in the U.S., the increased interest in this topic isn’t surprising. It seems that everywhere you turn, there is talk of new initiatives – and for potential candidates, opportunities are everywhere!
Your guide to IT issues and initiatives
Understanding some of the biggest initiatives and issues surrounding an expanding technical talent pool is essential to taking advantage of them within your business. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most impactful tech talent issues and programs right now.
- H-1B Visas. You’ve likely heard about H-1B visas, which enable foreign workers to legally work in the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 233,000 requests for H-1B visas last year, demonstrating the critical need for talented IT professionals across the country. But while there were 233,000 requests for H-1B visas, the government mandates a cap of only 65,000 new visas each year, severely restricting access to overseas IT talent for many organizations.
- Late introduction to STEM topics and curricula for school-age children. Across the U.S., many school districts introduce technology and engineering coursework later in a child’s education – often in high school. Recognizing the need for tech talent and the opportunity for students to launch successful careers upon graduation, an increasing number of school districts across the country are integrating STEM curriculum into schools earlier (including elementary and middle schools). That means in addition to the basic reading, writing and arithmetic, students will be studying technology and engineering topics as well. These programs have a secondary goal of increasing interest in STEM careers among young female students, due to research that shows some young women may lose interest in STEM education as early as middle school. Second-grade students designing bridges and fourth-graders learning about magnetism through a levitating train project? These are some fun examples of what’s on the horizon!
- The TechHire Program. Perhaps the biggest plan of all is the President’s recent announcement of the TechHire program. The program’s goal is ambitious – spend $100 million to build a larger technology workforce in the U.S. focusing initially on 20 key regions. TechHire will help create new plans for recruiting and placing tech talent based on in demand skill sets. It also aims to create more fast track tech training opportunities. Through the TechHire program, the President also hopes to inspire and encourage additional regions across the country to invest in and expand training and opportunities for professionals seeking technical careers. While this program was just announced with high-level details in spring 2015, we anticipate more details in the coming months.
- Military hiring programs. Tens of thousands of our military personnel are coming back from combat zones without guaranteed jobs or ample opportunity for employment. Through a new government strategy, more than 90,000 service men and women will gain access to technology and energy jobs over the next five years as part of the Joining Forces Initiative. They will accomplish this through increased education and job training opportunities for military personnel and education of career opportunities and resources, while providing access to wellness programs and other tools.
What these IT talent programs mean for your business
These initiatives promise some exciting times for both young people across the U.S. and, of course, businesses and organizations searching for talented IT professionals. But while these programs offer tremendous potential, many of them are still in their infancy. As a result, it could take some time before your organization benefits.
Here are some ways you can both get involved in solving the tech talent shortage and also find the IT professionals you need, right now:
- Get hands on. As IT professionals, you can have a profound impression on the career trajectories of young people simply by getting involved. Volunteer at local schools or youth organizations, or offer to mentor a burgeoning young tech professional. Show people that IT is cool, and while you’re at it, demonstrate firsthand what a supportive and encouraging industry we’re in – both you and the students will benefit.
- Talk to the right people. Sometimes the old-fashioned way of doing things is actually the most influential. If you want to see more programs that aim toward increasing and improving the IT talent pool, write letters to your local congressmen and women. Go to town hall meetings and other events where you have a chance to voice your opinion and either support current initiatives or propose new ones. It’s your constitutional right, and it can make a tremendous impact.
- Engage with the right partners. There are steps you can take right now to land the IT talent your organization needs today. We frequently share tips for landing top tech talent on our Synergis blog. And of course we’d love to help you find the right talent for your project or organization as well. We’re here to help!
Where do you see the market for technical talent heading in the next few years? We’d love to hear your input!