Is Tech Talent Getting Harder To Find? - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy

Is Tech Talent Getting Harder To Find?

There were almost 300,000 new IT jobs last year, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that doesn't surprise Bob Keefe, new president of the Society for Information Management. He says talent issues are the top challenge these days for his fellow CIOs.

There were almost 300,000 new IT jobs last year, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that doesn't surprise Bob Keefe, new president of the Society for Information Management. He says talent issues are the top challenge these days for his fellow CIOs."It's been very hard to recruit tech talent" at many companies, says Keefe, who started in his new post as SIM president on Jan. 1, but has previously served in other leadership roles at the senior-level tech professional organization.

Keefe, who's been in IT more than 25 years at companies like Kraft, ConAgra, Russell Corp., and Wyeth, is currently CIO at manufacturer Mueller Water Products in Atlanta.

In his new SIM role, Keefe will help the group continue a mission launched a couple of years ago: getting the word out to college and high school students -- as well as guidance counselors -- that IT is a promising field for building a career, despite the bad rap it's been getting in recent years.

"Yes, there are some jobs that are being offshored, but the preponderance aren't," he says. Similarly, in manufacturing -- an industry where the offshoring of jobs has probably been most prevalent -- there are shortages of some very key talent, such as engineers. "Even if an engineer can fog up a mirror, we'll hire him," Keefe quips about how tough that talent market has become.

But back to IT talent. SIM's annual survey last fall about top CIO concerns also highlighted the worry about recruiting, developing, and retaining IT people. That issue topped the list, followed by related challenges, including building business skills among techies.

And without an adequate infusion of new people into the business tech field, it'll be difficult for companies to build bench-strength for coming talent needs, especially when it comes to preparing people for future leadership roles.

SIM is addressing those issues as an organization, says Keefe. Last year the group upgraded its Web site so that members can better share information and insight beyond their regional SIM chapters.

"We're making it more of a community experience," he says. Also regional leadership forums help SIM members "move to the next level" in leadership preparedness and up the career ladder, he says. "I send someone from my staff to these each year." So, what is your company doing to meet its present and future talent needs?

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