KCSourceLink: The Battle for Tech Talent

By: Kate Hodel

We know tech jobs are in hot demand—and by 2020, there will be an estimated 1.4 million open tech jobs nationwide and only 400,000 workers.tech talent

With those strong demand and little supply, it’s no wonder there is a … Battle for Tech Talent.

Recruiting and retaining tech talent is concern for employers here in Kansas City. In 2015, there were 7,693 job posting for STEM-related jobs in Kansas City alone—nearly double the job postings in 2015. And yet, in Kansas City, there were only 2,554 hires. That gap in talent prompted a workshop to address the issue head on: the Battle for Tech Talent, hosted on March 9 by KCNext and Lockton.

During the workshop, Gary Beach, publisher emeritus for CIO magazine and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, lead a discussion on trends in IT employment.

Here are just a few of our favorite takeaways:

  • Companies must create a culture of lifelong learning.
  • 2 million 16-24 year olds are neither employed, in education nor in training (NEETs).
  • CEOs have to actually get involved in education, not just talk about the need for better education. “The dog barks but the caravan moves on.”
  • The biggest hole in the STEM pipeline starts before kindergarten.
  • We need to embrace apprenticeships in the IT space. “Shop class” is no longer a consolation prize.
  • Generation Z (born in 1995) is coming our way and their favored form of communication is face-to-face.
  • Retiring workers are taking their institutional knowledge with them.

Ryan Weber, president of KCnext, followed, moderating a panel with Chris Isaacson, BATS Global Markets; Kevin McGinnis, Pinsight Media+; Mira Mdivani, Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm; and Anna Welchman, LaunchCode. 

Here are some key points to ponder:

  • People have the drive to be successful in the tech world. LaunchCode helps make the connections.
  • When you are recruiting, tell people about the big problem you are trying to solve. Create the culture that encourages learning and helps them grow. It’s opportunity, it’s not a job.
  • Immigrant talent helps us create winning teams. Consider this analogy: 26 percent of the Kansas City Royals are foreigners—or immigrant workers. In one sense you could say they are “taking jobs” from American baseball players, but they’re also helping to create a winning team.
  • We’ve got to increase the supply of IT talent. Everyone should learn how to code.

Content contributed by Kate Hodel, KCSourceLink.  KCSourceLink is a proud affiliate of SourceLink, R & D for your Entrepreneurial Community.