Monday, July 14, 2014

Growing IT Talent in Nashville

This week's Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce newsletter asked for input to help Nashville grow. Being in IT, the first thing I thought of as a barrier to growth is the lack of top IT talent. Middle Tennessee colleges and universities churn out a staggering number of IT students, however the skills taught in class only go so far towards preparing those students for growth in the workplace. For many, this growth is spring-boarded by attending conferences where they receive exposure to new technologies, training in vital skills, and connect with other professionals outside their organization. Conferences draw the best and brightest from surrounding states as both presenters and attendees, which provides a unique opportunity to market Nashville as a city of potential employers as well as establishing a reputation of excellence.

Below is the comment I submitted to the Chamber of Commerce. Please post any comments or suggestions you might have at the bottom of this article or tag me on twitter (@gainesk).
The technology sector seems to be driving much of Nashville's growth, however our current workforce is having trouble keeping up and may hinder continued growth. While various special interests have formed strong communities around specific technologies and products, Nashville is sorely lacking in regionally recognized technology focused events focused on educating and connecting both local and national talent. Local government needs to get more involved in helping to facilitate these events by making venues available and connecting organizers with sponsorship. The result will be a stronger reputation for Nashville as a technology hub on the National stage, higher standards for education and training of talent, and attracting top talent from other cities by showcasing what Nashville has to offer.

4 comments:

  1. Gaines I was actually researching this topic all last week. I found some interesting Data that did include Tech as a top reason Nashville was growing to my surprise it was interestingly sanctioned in the data... I'd like to know your thoughts on how they separated it out... http://www.economicmodeling.com/2014/04/30/nashvilles-driver-industries-and-top-jobs-for-2014/ Maybe it's because of the overwhelming healthcare industry in the area it overshadows the tech. I do know however it's on the rise and more people like you and I are in Nashville and we all have the same desire. To attract top talent, to educate and have organic growth in Nashville. We at Aptera Software are currently brainstorming ideas on how to help the community as well as have more top talent involvement. If you have ideas please shoot them my way. I'd love to talk with you about our ideas and brainstorm together over coffee if you'd like. Because we want the same thing for the community and more people on this level the better! @gainesk

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    1. Audrey, the industry breakdown is interesting, however it doesn't seem to delve into what aspects are attracting/supporting that growth. I recognize my perspective is skewed towards IT, however I think those from other professions would generally agree that business is becoming more driven by technology every day and those cities that can establish themselves as hubs of technological innovation and excellence are increasingly becoming more desirable to the type of forward thinking companies that are seeing the most growth.

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  2. While not a comprehensive solution, I would encourage IT talent to pursue companies that provide educational opportunities and ongoing training. CTS invests in our employees by strengthening their technical skill sets through internal and external training. Our recent graduates participate in a six week training “boot camp” to better prepare them for projects and train them in technologies they may not have used extensively in school. They are paid employees during this period, so it is essentially an investment in their career here. There are several other benefits we provide to our more experience employees to ensure their continued growth in design and development, including conference participation. Until educational program raise the bar, companies that provide educational resources to their employees will attract top talent. Educational programming may be strengthened in degree programs through closer partnerships with local companies. (Thanks for posting!)

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    1. Elise, my hope is that more companies will come to recognize the value of ongoing training and employee retention since attracting talent has become so much more difficult. Until then, it's up to the individual to consider how potential employers will support their career goals and filter the opportunities down to those companies that nurture growth from within.

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