Tech companies search for talent in West MI


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – The U.S. Labor Department announced Tuesday that in June, employers advertised the highest number of monthly job openings in more than 13 years. At the same time, some industries in West Michigan have a number of well-paying open positions that they can’t seem to find the workers to fill.

“The challenge we’re facing right now is identifying enough talent to fill our open needs and demands by our customers,” said Tamara Iakiri, who works in talent acquisition at Open System Technologies, or OST.

The company based in Grand Rapids has seen its workforce nearly triple over the past three years.

OST currently has 10 open positions, but Iakiri said that it could fill perhaps as many as 25 positions. There is demand for the company’s services, but it doesn’t have enough people to fill the jobs.

“There is so much demand around health care and technology, that’s where the majority – even our app development business – is right now,” Iakiri said. “Technology is touching everything in health care.”

OST — which projects it will grow to a $400 million business and expand from 170 employees to 450 in the next 10 years — isn’t the only company experiencing a tech work shortage.

Four months ago, OST partnered with economic development group The Right Place and places like Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Community College, Kent Intermediate School District and Spectrum Health to form West Michigan Tech Talent — a group focused on attracting and retaining technology workers in West Michigan.

“We’re sorely in need of tech talent here in West Michigan and finally some groups have come together to do something about it,” said Megan Sall, a business development manager at The Right Place.

Sall said the technology industry contributes more than $1.2 billion a year to the West Michigan economy and it’s big player when it comes to The Right Place’s ability to attract new businesses and bring more jobs to West Michigan.

“It’s really the backbone of so many of the industry sectors that are driving our region’s growth,” Sall said. “Whether it’s health care or manufacturing, again, technology is the thing that is driving these companies. It’s helping them get to the next level. Ultimately, it’s maintaining jobs and investment in the community, which is important for all of us.”

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