When I was CEO of Atrion, a Rhode Island based IT services firm, I realized that the lack of qualified IT talent was the biggest challenge my business would face. I understood that the IT talent deficit was not only impacting my business, but our state and the greater industry as well. Similarly, the rest of the IT industry was grappling with its impact too. In 2016, Gartner drew a line in the sand stating that talent had just become recognized globally as the “single biggest issue” preventing CIOs from achieving their objectives.
With the steep implications of the IT talent deficit mounting, I decided to take one step forward to combat the deficit issue by launching Atrion’s Apprenticeship Program. Launched in 2011, the program was designed to develop the up-and-coming technology workforce in three core skills areas: leadership, essential and technical. In seven years, we developed more than 100 technicians and the program, for many, helped to start or jump-start the participant’s IT career. We were able to move the needle.
Seven years later, though, the IT talent deficit is still alive and well, and we see it play out in business every day. For example, we struggle with:
- Taking months to fill that critical open position
- Paying top-dollar for mediocre talent
- Top-talent lacking leadership and essential skills
- Top-talent missing business savvy skills
- Top-level talent is retiring and exiting the workforce at rates never before seen
In other words, we still have a huge amount of work to do as business leaders and contributors to ameliorate this global talent issue. But, we can’t do this on our own!
Most organizations can’t develop and launch their own apprenticeship program. Most companies can’t hire less experienced talent and develop them to be a fit for the required role. Most companies can’t make huge investments in keeping their technical team skills current and relevant.
Therefore, we need to rethink how we address the talent shortages that we are experiencing. We need to think of a new workforce.
A New Workforce
Research, empirical data, and our own experience tell us that the technology workforce of today and tomorrow will look exceedingly different than it did in years past. CIOs will need to able to work alongside business unit leaders effectively to solve sizeable business challenges. Developers will be expected to come out from behind their desks to interact directly with the clients. IT Directors will be asked to be just as strategic as they are tactical. We are seeing these realities emerge every day.
In short, today’s technology workforce must be both technical- and business-centric, being able to talk speeds and feeds with their team and then turn right around and talk ROI with the business unit leader.
Here at the Tech Collective, we are excited about this new technology workforce. This is the workforce that is going to bring innovation, expansion and transformation to our greater Rhode Island community. They are going to help our great state usher in new thinking and ways to problem sole. And we stand ready to help prepare them for great success in the workplace.
Since our inception, the Tech Collective has served as Rhode Island’s foremost Information Technology Association, ensuring that our state’s technology industry has the talent and resources it needs to compete and grow. This year, we expand upon our mission by focusing on engaging, enabling and empowering the technology workforce through demand-driven workforce development.
Whether you are new to us, or a long-time partner, you will be able to lean on us in a more profound way to support your technology leadership journey. As Chairman of the Board of Directors, I’d like to pull the curtain back on just a few things we are passionately working on this year:
Alignment to the Workforce Development Lifecycle: Our programs and initiatives ensure that we touch the technology workforce at all stages of the lifecycle, from education to workforce onboarding to incumbent training. We offer a breadth of offerings that allow our state’s leaders—from the senior in high school to the 20-year veteran CIO—to dive deeper into the soft and hard skills training that will augment that individual’s ability to positively contribute to the tech landscape.
Demand–Driven Training: We believe our state’s technology leaders are the very individuals who can illuminate the way to the trainings, seminars and teachings they need to reach a heightened level of professional mastery. At the Tech Collective, we offer demand-driven workforce development, conceptualizing trainings, events and community-building initiatives that address the specific needs of Rhode Island’s technology leaders. For instance, last year, we launched the CIO Forum, which creates space for CIOs to convene, learn, expand their network and advance information technology thinking within the state.
Expansion of Programming: Today’s IT leaders face enormous pressure to remain ahead of the curve so that they can be the ones bringing innovation to the business versus being side-swept by third-party providers and other business unit leaders. At the Tech Collective, we partner with IT leaders to help them stay ahead of curves through the constant expansion of our programming. From launching our Agile RI group last year to beginning to create a group that focuses exclusively on Diversity & Inclusion, we are constantly expanding our programming so that IT leaders can dive deep into newer concept as part of this likeminded community.
For us, it’s about accelerating Rhode Island’s technology workforce, ensuring that our state has the talent, information and resources it needs to keep technology as the fastest growing sector in our economy.
Whether you are just starting out on your career, in the throes of it or at the tail-end, we want to spend time with you—presenting new ideas and frameworks that you can take back to the business, and leveraging your energy, perspectives and wisdom to strengthen our community. We hope to see you at one of our next events soon! And, in the meantime, we invite you to drop us a line to learn a bit more about our focus areas.
To join the Tech Collective—and learn more about our Corporate, Individual and Education Membership Types—click here.
About Tim Hebert
Tim Hebert is Chairman of the Tech Collective Board of Directors. Tim is the CEO and Founder of Trilix, a Rhode Island based custom software development firm. For more than two decades, Tim served as CEO and President of Atrion, a Rhode Island-based IT services firm that grew from a two-man, spare-bedroom operation to a $160-million, 260-plus employee organization. Tim is also a national keynoter, leadership activator and prolific writer on topics related to intentional leadership.