As new areas of information technology continue to emerge and demand more attention from skilled workers, colleges and universities across the country are soon to find themselves in greater competition with the corporate world for IT professionals.
While small schools will have the most trouble recruiting IT grads, colleges and universities across the board will have to ramp up their recruitment efforts if they want to attract skilled workers to meet their IT needs.
“We have found that many IT departments are buying “off the shelf” modules rather than recreate the wheel,” says Rick Friedman, President, ScholarlyHires.com. “Many opportunities are implementation or support personnel, as opposed to programmers, in order to combat the lack of available talent. The one exception to this seems to be web development roles; talent pools in this area seem to be broader, with ever-changing technology opportunities, and many schools are utilizing more current applicants, which bodes well for recruiting staff.”
Traditionally, college IT departments haven’t enjoyed particularly robust salaries, leaving the higher education sector with many improvements to make if they want to attract the top talent. Pay and benefits packages, technology goals, and technology facilities and equipment are some of the areas that can give schools a competitive advantage.
One of the greatest challenges schools are likely to face in the coming year is increased competition with each other for IT professionals. IT recruiters are beginning to expand their search pool, reaching outside of their state to find try to fill the vast job opportunities at their schools.
Just over the last year, Deborah Scott, chief information officer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, has noticed that she is now competing with employers from Connecticut and Rhode Island on top of those in Worcester and the surrounding areas for the same talent pool, according to Campus Technology. Combine that with the fact that there are more IT openings than people to fill positions and the challenge becomes much tougher.
One way colleges are combating this is by focusing on the unique mission of their college IT departments. Focusing the work on improvements to cyber security and other important IT fields is often much more attractive to prospective employees than handling the day-to-day IT needs of a big corporation, even if the pay isn’t equal.
Still, in order to compete with larger tech companies and the corporate sector, colleges and universities will probably have to raise IT salaries in order to draw some of the attention away from high-paying corporate jobs.
As we move into 2015, IT hiring is bound to see a significant increase. If they make some changes to their recruitment techniques and highlight their meaningful tech goals, colleges of all sizes stand a fair chance at attracting these skilled workers to their campuses.