Information technology jobs are some of the fastest growing in Southeast Michigan, a 9-county area that includes Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Flint. In just five years, demand in the form of online job postings grew more than 50%, faster than major national tech hubs like Silicon Valley. Each quarter there is a steady stream of employer demand, with postings hovering around 9-10,000. In the third quarter of 2013, demand soared above a whopping 16,000 postings over the three-month period. The greatest need has been for software developers, followed by computer systems analysts, computer user support specialists, programmers, and database administrators.
With such a rapid upward shift in demand, it is no surprise that employers are struggling to find talent. Certainly, Southeast Michigan is not alone in its challenge. Many communities nationwide are experiencing their own rapid growth. However, the response in this region is unique.
A partnership of community colleges and workforce development agencies (Michigan Works!) has formed a partnership called the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN). The purpose of WIN is to understand labor market demand and work with employers to address their short-term and long-term talent needs. Other partners include economic developers, universities, and of course employers themselves. WIN has convened these groups to form an employer-led, multi-industry council focused specifically on IT talent needs.
The Council’s mission is to raise awareness of and shape community responses to the Southeast Michigan technology industry’s talent, customer and supply-chain, and other growth needs. The vision is an enhanced, tech-based ecosystem that supports industry and community-economic success. This group meets routinely and has three primary goals:
- Brand and market Southeast Michigan as a technology and innovation hub that attracts and retains top talent and industry partners.
- Identify talent needs and encourage solutions to support short- and long-term competitiveness.
- Provide a network of support for area technology firms.
The Council comprises more than 30 employers with a significant need for information technology talent and is open to any additional company that may be interested in participating.
The council is taking action to develop new talent that regional tech employers need, including an experiential learning initiative, internships for college students, apprenticeships for systems analysts, and more. The council also serves as a communication conduit for the region’s various talent partners. WIN works closely with the State of Michigan, business accelerators, and others to collaborate and close the talent gap in the region.
“My company is an active participant in the regional tech council,” notes John W. Stout, President of Stout Systems. “The objectives of the council align with our own efforts to attract software and IT industry talent to the area and help make the Detroit region recognized as the hugely growing technology center that it is. Ann Arbor, where we are headquartered, draws its share of talent and so is an essential part of the regional strategy. I encourage other employers to be a part of this initiative.”
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