Detroit Tech and Colleges Attack IT-Worker Shortage

Detroit SkylineDetroit companies need IT workers, and if they can’t find them then they’re going to create them. A consortium of local companies and colleges have created a two-month program designed to give students and IT pros more experience to advance their technology careers.

The IT in the D program, supported by The Michigan Economic Development Corp., currently has 32 students from participating colleges working with about 35 trainers from companies in the program. The students meet twice a week in two-hour classes at the companies’ offices until the end of August.

Consortium members include Quicken Loans, Compuware, GalaxE. Solutions (which created a well-known “Outsource to Detroit” program), Fathead LLC, Marketing Associates, as well as Wayne State University, Wayne County Community College District and Washtenaw Community College.

Real Need, Real Job Openings

The need is real. Quicken Loans says it wants to hire 150 IT experts, and an IDC study says that by 2015 there could be 12,500 new IT jobs in the metro area.

What kinds of jobs?

Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives has completed a study of the “Hot 50” jobs in Michigan and six are IT-related:

  • Computer Systems Analysts (#8)
  • Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts (#10)
  • Computer Software Engineers, Applications (#20)
  • Network Systems Administrators (#32)
  • Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software (#29)
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers (#33)

A Idea In the Making

While the initial focus is on current students, the program will grow to embrace tech workers of all ages and experience levels. The program aims to retrain them into growth areas, such as mobile and Web development.

The idea for the program developed because many people were thinking the same thing at the same time, says Amy Cell, senior vice president for talent enhancement Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“We were all struggling with where to get a pipeline of talent from,” she says. “We convened a meeting in November 2011 with the employers, the colleges, and various tech organizations from around the state, about 40 people in all. There was even someone from the White House.”

Once the consortium created the framework for the program, the hiring companies came up with the name IT in the D. Michigan, meanwhile, plans to merge its own similar effort called Shifting Code into the new program.

Pebble in a Pond?

The IT in the D concept is currently spreading to other Michigan cities, and while Cell hasn’t heard of other tech organizations creating such a program in other states, it may happen in the near future.

Detroit’s plan could be replicated by any city with at least a few tech companies and community colleges or universities willing to sync up with local economic development departments or technology boosters.

On the West Coast, for example, Seattle’s Office of Economic Development tracks the progress of 850 local technology companies and works with Washington’s Technology Alliance and the Washington Technology Center to keep lines of communication open with government, business and higher education. It wouldn’t be a stretch for these organizations to come together to create a similar program, perhaps call it IT in the S.

What’s going on in your city?

Related Links

Detroit firms, colleges create program to promote IT careers [The Detroit News]

8 Responses to “Detroit Tech and Colleges Attack IT-Worker Shortage”

  1. tech privateer

    That is what it is all about. Lets use the system to create jobs, which lead to taxpayers, which leads to tax dollars that are hopefully recycled to rebuild a once great city. I wish my city would do something like this.

  2. jcpopescu

    Another token gesture “IT Training ” program ?


    The same thing went on during the Clinton Administration when the attempt was made to silence opposition to increasing H-1B visas from 65,000 to over 100,000 per year. The very empty promise was made to take a portion of H-1B visa fees and use them to fund “IT Training” programs. Within five years programs were established and disbanded. They were nothing but redundant, irrelevant, and served no purpose other than wasting the students time.

    There are plenty of perfectly skilled, qualified, talented, motivated professionals unemployed with education ranging from vo tech training on through post graduate studies. It’s just a question of tapping them and allowing them to learn the job.

    Nobody or nothing should be in the business of training new hires. That’s the employer’s job and if they don’t want to assume it then they don’t belong in business and the Federal Government does not owe them a pool of cheap and indentured workers vis a vis some despicable, immoral, and just wrong “skilled guest worker” programs.

    These various “training” programs are a joke. The root of the problem is corporate greed, arrogance, and a willingness to lie about a “worker shortage”.

  3. LieBuster

    For real? What a lie. I live in Detroit and have 25 years of experience and was an Enterprise Architect. I’ve been looking for six months. The part corporate America leaves off is there are no jobs that people are willing to work for, for next to nothing. I currently live in H-1B visas city. There are literally tens of thousands of American IT tech workers here, they just by passed in the interviewing process because they can get cheaper foreign workers by making lies like the one here! Don, quite printing these lies. Find the truth out!

    • LieBuster

      they just get by passed …. rather.

      If they stopped importing them, maybe our unemployment numbers would actually improve. I don’t have anything against foreigners, I just have a problem with them competing with us based on how little money they are willing to accept. American IT workers are considered commodities now. There are workers, the only shortage is of the “next to free” H-1B workers.

  4. jcpopescu

    @Tech Piravteer.


    However everyone has to be on the same page. Right now that’s just not happening.

    Look no further than the job listings on DICE, Monster, CareerBuildiner, Regional Help Wanted, and even CraigsList.

    They’re all the same; “Company XYZ wants {position title}” followed by a list of computer hardware and software half of which is irrelevant. Followed by a list of deliberate SKILL and TOOL confusion.

    Are companies hiring for raw talent ? Are they hiring for the SKILL to use , or figure out the TOOL ? A bank won’t hire an IT person from a law firm for same exact IT role. And heavan forbid a given venture even thinks training a recent college grad. How many times have veteran STEM professionals found them shut out of a job even after they’ve taken it upon themselves to learn the “latest and greatest” software TOOLS. The company claims such is irrelevant and useless because it’s not paid employ with same TOOLS.

    The whole point is EVERYONE in the game needs to be on the same page and have the same objectives. Employers who think young, cheap, pliant “skilled guest workers” , uncompensated overtime, unrealistic expectations of a new hire are acceptable has no valid complaint about a “worker shortage” or a “broken” system of STEM education.

    Moreover: The expectation that public monies and resources be used to groom them a custom tailored employee is just plain wrong.

    The idea of training programs is very good and noble. However to turn right around and invalidate it as has been the case for almost two or more decades for many degreed STEM professionals is simply unacceptable.