GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Companies in West Michigan with openings in technology jobs are having a difficult time finding the talent needed to fill the open positions.
“There are jobs. There are lot of jobs. The potential is huge and the staying power is there and we just need the talent to be there,” said Mike Lomonaco, director of marketing and communications at Open Systems Technologies.
According to economic development group the Right Place, West Michigan’s information technology industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, growing at rate of nearly 14 percent — more than double the national average.
“Every industry, every company is looking to fill that void and they are struggling to do so,” Lomonaco said.
That growth has made it even more difficult for companies to recruit IT workers. This is why OST has launched their new division to help their clients get the talent they need.
“We’re really excited about the launch of our new recruiting solutions practice, which will be working with companies across our geography in Michigan, Chicago and Minneapolis to fill a huge void for a lot of business which is IT and technology talent,” Lomonaco said.
Lomonaco says they are seeing the need for IT jobs across the board.
“Currently, for example, we have about 15 to 20 just at Spectrum Health alone that we have filled. As far as a regional look, I would say there are hundreds if not thousands of opportunities, job opportunities out there right now. That goes from working for a consulting firm like OST to the Spectrums’, Meijers’, Prizers’ and the Amways’ of the world,” said Lomonaco.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for someone with an IT centered degree is between one to two percent, the average salary for someone in West Michigan with an IT job is nearly $75,000, according to The Right Place.
“To get folks in West Michigan what we find at OST, whether we are hiring for ourselves internally or for one of our customers, we are selling West Michigan as much as we are selling the job. The great thing about West Michigan — what we’ve seen in here in the last 15 to 20 years of growth and prosperity in West Michigan that’s definitely a bonus,” said Lomonaco.
That is what they are doing for the short term, for a long-term fix Lomonaco says the company is trying to get the youth of the area interested in computer sciences.
“We must be starting at the elementary level we must get our students minds and inspire them to want to be in this industry,” Lomonaco said.
Ruth Holtrop is an employee at OST. She joined the company fresh out of college.
“I do application development so I build software for the various clients for OST,” Holtrop said.
Holtrop, a graduate of Calvin College, had a job offer seven months before she graduated and several more when it was time to get that diploma.
“It was really nice to be able to consider several different options, just having that freedom when looking at different jobs is really nice.”
Holtrop is also part of the team from OST that goes into schools and sits with kids, teaching them about programming.
“We go and sit with a classroom full of kids for about an hour and teach them what programming is and give them some hands on experience trying some stuff. We also do a program called Bit Camp where we host a group of girls usually in seventh or eighth grade to come and learn from some of our developers here,” Holtrop said.
It’s all part of OST’s long-term strategy to fill the void of IT talent here in West Michigan.
“The hope is that we can encourage more kids to look into computer science and what a career in that field would be like, especially for younger girls we want them to consider a computer science as an option,” Holtrop said.