Milwaukee Faces Tech Talent Shortage

Milwaukee promises to become a hot job market for IT pros, according to a report by the Greater Milwaukee Committee, which says area colleges won’t produce enough tech workers to replace those who retire in the next five years.

It says 16 two-year and four-year higher education institutions in the area have 4,112 students in the pipeline, but the region expects 5,751 technology workers to retire over the next five years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. And the situation poses a real challenge to any business that wants to expand its IT staff, or to start a business there.

Only 30 percent of the population in the seven-county area around Milwaukee has any post-secondary education. The committee urges post-secondary schools to more closely align curricula with business needs.

Scott Jansen, who heads the group’s efforts to study the talent issue, said:

Houston, we have a problem. We have businesses that expect talent to arrive at their door to meet their needs. But students and educators are not fully aligned to meet those needs.

Milwaukee didn’t make Dice’s recent Top 10 list of fastest-growing tech job markets, but has about 600 positions listed on Dice.

The website, which focuses on small businesses, lists 27 tech-specific local companies. Yet with technology so deeply embedded in business in every sector, there are numerous openings at larger area employers, which include Rockwell Automation, Kohl’s and U.S. Bank.

11 Responses to “Milwaukee Faces Tech Talent Shortage”

  1. ConfusedCountry

    The number of job postings doesn’t mean number of jobs. For each job posting, there are at least 5-10 recruiters who have posted the position. 600 hundred job postings probably means 60 new jobs. There is no correlation between number of postings and number of jobs.

    — in fact, I would argue that most of the increase in Job postings are tied more to the increase in number recruiters in the industry, than to an increase in demand for programmers!

        • ConfusedCountry

          Basically from experience. It seems that each job is submitted to several recruiters/consulting companies to fill. Each of those companies often have more than 1 person working on it.

          On the very day that a new job gets released I get a firestorm of identical requests from recruiters and when I read the requirement it is exactly the same:

          Top Financial Company in Midtown Manhattan seeks Java developer with EJB 3, Tomcat……
          to work on an FX system….. Some Ruby on Rails nice to have etc, etc, etc.

          It’s identical. Usually on the first day I get 3 or 4 recruiters calling me, then over the next week or two I seem to get several more. So If I get a minimum of 3 or 4 calls for each position, I have to assume there are other recruiters out there working the same job calling other people who don’t know me (I’m not all that popular).

          If you want to see this for yourself do a fairly wide search like Java in NY Metro. Then one by one go through the list and read them, if you take a couple of hours to research this yourself, you will also start seeing the same jobs posted over and over again.

          I have also noticed that I get more calls for each job then I did several years ago, therefore I have come to the conclusion that the growth of jobs is caused by more recruiters (maybe getting out of programming?) and becoming recruiters and posting the same jobs over and over again.

          ….besides, if demand is so high, why do I keep getting emails from recruiters saying things like “In this competitive market” and “hiring managers are way to picky”.

          I also believe that companies are interviewing for the pipeline and not for real jobs. In the past year I have heard of many programmers complaining that they went through the interview process only to find out they don’t have the budget. What?!

          Maybe it is because they are stuffing the queues so that if someone quits or gets fired, they pull from the next in line. That would also explain so much interviewing with not much hiring, and an increase postings.

          My feeling is that there has been a slight increase in real jobs. Some of the increase is not real jobs, it is just pipeline interviewing multiplied by an increase in recruiters working the jobs and posting the same positions multiple times.

          If you want to prove it to yourself, look around the office. How many empty desks do you see with panicked managers frantically trying to fill the holes. I don’t see that happening, Do you?

          What I do see around me, is the company interviewing many, many people for one position.

          Nothing reconciles. At least in my book anyway.

      • Proud Paulbot

        I don’t know if anyone has compiled hard numbers on this, but I would not be surprised if the number of dupes was that high…and not just in tech. I’ve had as many as five different recruiters contact me for the exact same job in the marketing copywriting field. Not technical writing, but plain old marketing writing. I can tell it is the same job because the description and requirements are exactly the same, i.e., “need SharePoint, Adobe Creative Suite and eight years of SEO/SEM experience to work for a financial services company in [city].”

  2. Fred Bosick

    The onus is *completely* on business to offer good compensation packages and work environments to attract the workers. In other words, employers have not been “fully aligned” to meet the needs of prospective employees!

    Any shortage can be fixed by purely Capitalist principles, that is: offer good pay and advancement opportunities, *train* those who almost qualify, and accept that good employees might be other than freshly minted college graduates.

    It’s almost as if the looming Milwaukee IT shortage is just another excuse to raise the H-1B cap.

  3. Fred Bosick

    Mark, you”re running around putting out fires, “red herring”, “where do you get the 5-10 number”. You can’t keep up! We’re on the ground watching this stuff happen. And we have for years.

    Government figures lie. Your biggest corporate customers have an axe to grind. The H-1B queue every year fills up in hours, despite the recession and unemployment rate. Instead of waiting for press releases and government reports, send out staff to talk to regular IT people. But not to the big cities. Hell, just send out an anonymous survey to every email address tied to a resume’. You’ll find out what’s going on.

    • ConfusedCountry

      I agree. Why not survey us. I think that is a great idea. I’d really like to know. If the job market turns out to be better than I think, I’ll be happy, if not, I’d like to prepare myself.

  4. Dice is not going to do any investigative reporting with real IT people about the job market. That’s too much like work, besides they don’t won’t to contradict their corporate clients or the government during an election year.

    • You know, James, honestly: You keep telling me we don’t do any real reporting with people out in the market, and I keep telling you we do. The problem is, you don’t like what people who don’t share your opinions tell me, so you keep making the same accusation. The tech job market is healthier than the overall job market. Sorry that goes against your experience.

      Fred, I’m sorry. I’ve been reporting for years and one thing I know is the BLS is pretty well-insulated from politics. Nixon is probably the most famous example of a president who tried to politicize it, and even he backed off. If you’re telling me that every source, every study, every survey has got it wrong, well — that’s a pretty tough statement to back up, but if you can, I’d be happy to run your findings as a guest post.