Friday, January 17, 2014

Bridging the Talent Gap

I recently read an article about the top best cities for job opportunities from Business News Daily and a blog about the most sought after skills in 2013 from LinkedIn.  While St. Louis did not make the list in the Business News Daily article, don’t be fooled because the opportunities in St. Louis are growing each day. I have been amazed that businesses in the St. Louis area had generated a 25 percent increase over the last year.  These have included mid-size businesses and large corporations such as Boeing, Edward Jones, Express Scripts, Enterprise and Monsanto with numerous and varied IT positions to be filled.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always equate into jobs being filled immediately.  Simply, finding the right talent with very specific and extraordinary skill sets is challenging, not only in St. Louis but throughout the country.  It’s true that for the high demand we have for IT consultants, finding that consultant is a roll-up-your sleeves adventure.  Part of the issue is the number of IT students graduating with a degree or certifications was far greater 10 years ago than it is now.  Schools have a lack of students graduating in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Students and especially female students in middle school and high school have throughout recent years, backed away of STEM studies. 

The good news is that IT employment salaries have increased and the critical growing demand for talent provides an opportunity for us to increase awareness.  As a community we need to band together to create opportunities for the youth, people who are interested in learning new skills, older staff members who are eager to expand their skill set, veterans who are anxious for new job opportunities and those who are currently looking to move up in their career.

I am very excited about having a possible new charter school for girls in St. Louis, The Hawthorn Leadership School for girls with a STEM based curriculum.  It’s inspiring just to see their website.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to the students at Lift For Life Academy about the many possible career choices one can pursue in information technology.  Their interest and enthusiasm was inspiring and encouraging about our future in technology.   At UMSL there is a summer program, Xtreme IT, which exposes young people to the corporate world of IT and provides a hands-on opportunity.  This too is good news and it is only the beginning of many new and innovative projects that have sprung across the country designed to educate and encourage students to look at IT and STEM opportunities as a possible career choice.

At NextGen we have been working to bridge the talent gap with creative sourcing and recruiting techniques.  We have been working with companies in creating partnerships that provide new talent working side-by-side with seasoned mentors.  We have expanded our talent pool to be diverse and global.  We have accelerated our collegiate recruiting efforts and building new programs in an effort to reach out and “Hire Our Heroes. “  It’s all about working to build, from the ground up, a foundation to support technology in business with talent, innovation and creativity.  At NextGen we’re proud to be a part of this movement in our industry as we strive to help build a better workforce and a better workplace.  

Lori Eaton




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