The IT Talent Supply-Chain Problem
By Arthur Langer
We are supposedly at the crossroads of losing technology talent in the U.S. due to lower prices and better IT training abroad.
I have been collaborating with two senior academics, Dave Thomas from Harvard Business School and Peter Cappelli from the Wharton School, who focus their research in supply chain, talent management and employee diversity programs. Their research supports much of mine--all of it suggests that we need to reinvent the way talent is developed and that can compete in a global economy.
The understanding of IT organization's needs, however, is not in perspective. While so many think the need for IT jobs in the U.S. is non-existent, nothing can be further from the truth. Furthermore, there are a lot of unhappy outsourcing customers who are in the market for an alternative.
Indeed, I keep hearing from CIOs that they cannot find enough young talent--or local talent in general. The slowdown in IT graduates may have created a shortfall of local needs that are difficult to replace using traditional outsourcing in India, Brazil and China.
So what's a possible solution? Let me make you aware of an effort to provide trained mainframe talent for example.
I currently have a group of low-income high school graduates and community college students at Rutgers in a specially designed 16-month certification on mainframe. Here is the timetable for supplying talent:
â¢ Selections are made after completing a rigorous six-week pre-certification. â¢ Students take two intense mainframe classes per week. They also take two communications classes. â¢ Upon completing the first term they work at client sites three days a week along with a project manager. â¢ We created a charitable organization called Workforce Outsource Services (WOS). WOS is the consulting arm, and the students actually work through our firm--so you do not have to hire them. â¢ After six months they go full-time consulting, and after a year of that you can hire them or keep them as outsource suppliers.
So in 20 weeks you have a professional that you can hire away if you like. We are finding incredible young and diverse talent. Prudential, Medco, Blue Cross are all on board. Payments can be made in the form of donations and are at or below India rates.
Arthur Langer is senior director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Community Engagement at Columbia University. To read Art's monthly analysis columns in CIO Insight, click here.