In January, Spectrum News 1 explored issues surrounding the recruitment of IT professionals in Ohio on the their Dear Ohio podcast. The program interviewed three people: Ohio General Assembly representative Mark Frazier (R-Newark); Lisa Chambers, National Executive Director of Tech Corps, a company that provides technology training for a variety of age groups; and Nick York, president of the Ohio Innovation and Technology Association. The interviews focused on the issue of labor in the IT sector, namely the best ways to encourage more people to go into technology-based sectors. Representative Frazier discussed Ohio House legislation aimed at expanding tele-medicine throughout the state. Lisa Chambers discussed some of Tech Corps' in-school and extracurricular training programs designed to stimulate interest in technology in both students and working professionals. And, finally, Nick York discussed some of the challenges tech face encounter when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.
The podcast released only a day before Intel announced its plans to open a chip fabrication center in New Albany, which is just outside of Columbus. While many policy makers and business leaders are optimistic about this turn of events, Nick York offers some sobering observations about the tech sector that every firm should keep in mind: "Looking at IT talent from a broader scope, that's always been a challenge... The acceleration of technology is at such a degree that it's hard for us to adapt."*
Let's unpack some strategies that firms of any kind can employ to build out their workforce.
The Impact of the Pandemic & the Future of Work
One of the key take-aways from the Dear Ohio interviews is that pandemic has really shaken up previous concepts of the workplace. Remote work has changed how many workers structure their lives, often giving them more leeway in how they complete their work. Nick York thinks that firms really ought to embrace this new state of affairs. He claims, "Remote work really does provide flexibility."
But this is only one part of the puzzle. With technology advancing as quickly as it is, every firm ought to be consistently reinvesting in their workers by providing ongoing training and re-skilling. Luckily, there are numerous resources out there for companies looking to keep their laborers at the top of their games, as we reported last week. "We have to be continuous learners. We have to be always advancing and up-skilling ourselves," as Nick York put it on the podcast.
Lastly, Lisa Chambers recommends that more and more private companies take an interest in early education. Even though her advice focuses on the IT sector, it can arguably be applied to any sector. "What we've found through research is that the technology pipeline actually starts to have its first pull in fourth grade. That's especially true for girls and ethnic minority students. So, if we don't capture them early, if they don't have some early experiences, then the likelihood that they'll persist decreases as they move through their educational experience."
To address this problem, Tech Corps, which is based out of Columbus, offers a variety of K-12 programs in an effort to develop skills in technology among students who show an interest. Similar opportunities exist for students interested in healthcare, industry, and dentistry. Many of these programs are either housed within private companies or funded through professional associations. So even if your firm doesn't currently have the resources to create a program of its own, you can still invest in the future workforce by donating to a relevant organization and being active in the local community.
Ensuring that you have a reliable and effective workforce doesn't end at the boundaries of your facilities. Especially when it comes to technology, companies should constantly re-assess and take actions to keep their workforce nimble and adaptable. If you need help creating a structure for workforce development and training, Titan Tech can audit your current programs, offer suggestions, and help you develop a sustainable alternative. Give them a shout today to find out more.
And join us later this week for more tech news.
*Some quotes have been edited for space and clarity.