A strong workforce is the lifeblood of every economy. The growth of Idahos key industries, particularly the tech sector, depends on access to the right talent. Idahos technology industry has an acute shortage of talent, and without aggressive action by stakeholders and the community, this challenge will only intensify. Although its well known inside Idaho that we have an abundance of opportunities available in the tech sector, it isnt as well understood outside our borders. And the talent shortage has many adverse effects when you consider the many dynamics of starting and growing a technology company.
Many Idaho tech companies work hard to first seek qualified candidates in Idaho through standard methods such as posting open positions on job portals, working with universities and networking in the community. However, the stark reality is that Idaho simply does not produce enough graduates to meet the needs of a growing industry. The average number of graduates from large Idaho universities is around 30 new software professionals a year. Considering the hundreds of open software positions throughout Idaho, this is not enough to keep up with current, much less future, demand. Thats why Idaho tech companies often have to recruit talent from out of state, which is a challenging, costly and time-consuming endeavor.
On average in Idaho, for a tech company with steady growth, between 60 percent and 75 percent of software hires are recruited from out of state. Because the need for software talent is a national issue, Idaho competes with many states that are perceived as tech meccas by qualified candidates. Since software professionals naturally gravitate toward communities perceived to offer better career opportunities, Idaho has some challenging headwinds to raise awareness of opportunities for tech pros here.
This challenge has only intensified over the last few years. Many tech companies have doubled or tripled the numbers of recruiters they employ just to keep up with demand. On average, it can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting costs to hire a new software professional, and it can take several months to find the right person. This leads to a loss of productivity and business opportunities for the average company, but its even worse for emerging companies.
Unless new companies receive a generous amount of startup capital, their ability to pay for the high costs of talent recruitment is limited. Its impossible to grow without access to the right people, and Idahos reputation is affected by the success or failure of these emerging companies. If we want to grow an Idaho company into another Micron or HP, we need to act decisively to support their growth by creating a stronger talent pipeline for Idaho.
The Idaho Technology Council firmly believes that Idaho has a lot to offer software professionals interested in relocation. Idahos great quality of life and cost of living make it a great location for tech pros weary of a congested, expensive and crowded lifestyle. Despite the small population of our state, we have an incredible amount of innovation and entrepreneurism taking place. There is an abundance of opportunities available for techies to engage with like-minded people and work at companies that are making their mark on a national and international level. But to attract the right people to Idaho, we need to do a better job of communicating these traits that answer the question, Why Idaho?
Thats why the ITC is partnering with key stakeholders in the private and public sectors to develop a shared community plan to attract talent to Idaho. Many states have active talent attraction and education programs, and unless we get in the game soon, it will affect our states ability to vie for talent on a national level.
Jim Gasaway, vice president of IT development at Keynetics. firstname.lastname@example.org, 489-3384