Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

High-Tech Firms Confront Employment Challenges

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

High-Tech Firms Confront Employment Challenges

Article excerpt

With U.S. unemployment at a 29-year low of 4.2 percent, all employers are struggling to attract qualified workers. But perhaps no sector of the economy is working harder to cure the labor shortage than the booming high-tech world.

For this reason, Steve Kreidler, executive director of the Edmond Economic Development Authority, has placed this problem at the top of his priority list. While he said recruitment of labor has been a "nagging problem" for the city's high-tech firms for some time, "it has become particularly acute in the last six months."

In a way, it's a good problem to have. The reason Edmond's software and Web site developers, hardware manufacturers and other high-tech firms are struggling more now is because they're growing and setting higher hiring goals than ever before.

While Edmond HQ -- the high-quality jobs initiative -- has focused its energy over the last two years on developing venture capital funding sources, Kreidler said it is now recognizing that labor recruitment is the biggest challenge ahead.

Oklahoma's high-tech firms recruit about half their workers from Oklahoma and half from out of state, according to Kreidler. The challenges are slightly different.

When it comes to finding workers with very specific skills, such as a particular type of programmer, it often becomes necessary to recruit from out of state. Attracting these workers is often handled through very traditional channels, such as trade journal ads and head hunters. But Kreidler said Oklahoma image problems often pose a challenge. People in other parts of the country may think negatively about the state or may have little notion about it at all. One thing that can make a big difference, he said, is a "spectacular, knock- your-socks-off" recruitment package, which extols not only the benefits of the employer, but also the cost of living and other advantages of life in Edmond and Oklahoma City.

"Companies win if they're smarter than their competitors," said Kreidler.

Recruiting the spouse and showing the business and leisure opportunities for him and her can often be essential as well.

The EEDA has twice this year sent a recruiter to other states on behalf of a local employer to work on small groups of potential employees.

Another key factor in Kreidler's view is to develop the talent already within the state, including what he sees as a large segment of underemployed workers. For instance, he believes many of the state's call center employees could move on to much higher paying jobs with a little training. Quality technology curricula have already been put in place in high schools, vo-tech centers, two- year colleges and universities in the state. These should help a lot in producing the software developers and other high-tech workers of the future. In addition, Kreidler said many area employers spend four to eight months on formal and informal training in order to bring new workers up to speed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.