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Posted on 3/18/2015

​Matching employers with technical training and talent

Karol Friedman

We sat down with Karol Friedman, Automation Alley’s director of talent development, to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing the local tech workforce today and what Automation Alley is doing to address them. 

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the local technology industry when it comes to the talent pool? 

Karol Friedman: I think the biggest challenge is that the pool isn’t very deep. There’s about a 2-3 percent unemployment rate in the IT world, so most highly skilled talent is being poached from one company to another. There is training going on, but there isn’t a lot of talent that’s there now, ready and available, yet.
The other challenge is that technology is changing so quickly that somebody gets training in one thing and by the time they find employment, it’s already advanced to something newer. So to stay up to date, one really needs to be in a job and be experiencing those changes in technology while they are working. And that’s difficult because employers don’t want to hire somebody that either doesn’t have the skill set or doesn’t have the experience.

Q: What tactics are organizations like Automation Alley using to address these challenges? 

Karol Friedman: Our Technical Talent Development Program (TTDP) grant is the most effective way to address it from Automation Alley’s standpoint. This is a $5 million dollar U.S. Department of Labor grant that was composed by Automation Alley and awarded in April of 2012. Its mission is to help companies train local U.S. citizens to be the talent that is going to replace high-level technical talent coming from other countries. We are fulfilling this grant by having companies examine their ‘B’ candidates — ones that don’t quite meet the company’s standards  – and providing them with technical training funds to turn those employees into ‘A’ candidates. At this point, companies who have participated in the program have trained more than 900 local people.

What about training for unemployed individuals? 

Karol Friedman: There’s a part of the talent pool that doesn’t get hired because they have been unemployed for too long or are disconnected from the technology for too long. To address the skill need in that group, we created Code ReConnect, a program for unemployed IT individuals who don’t have recent job experience. We get them in touch with some foundation-level IT skills through our partnership with Michigan Works!, Kelly IT Resources and Oakland Community College.

How is Code ReConnect different from others training programs in the region? 

Karol Friedman: With Kelly IT Resources as a partner, we’re enhancing the skills of the people involved by taking the training graduates and giving them mentoring opportunities at local companies. That’s something that is very unique to this program.

About the Author

Karol Friedman | Automation Alley

To learn more about Code ReConnect or any of Automation Alley’s other talent programs and services, contact 800-427-5100 or info@automationalley.com. Companies interested in mentoring or hiring Code ReConnect graduates should attend the free information session “ReConnecting IT Talent to Business” on March 24, from 3-5 p.m., at Automation Alley Headquarters in Troy. To register, click here.  

What is your biggest challenge when it come to talent? Tell us in the comments!

 
 

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