Baltimore / Computer science / Hiring

Some NoVa tech employers are having a hard time acquiring IT talent

In a new report from Northern Virginia Community College and the Northern Virginia Technology Council, C-suite executives shared insight on their tech hiring outlooks.

Women at work. (Photo by Pixabay user rawpixel, used under a Creative Commons license)

In a new workforce research report surveying Northern Virginia tech employers, some C-suite executives admitted that their companies are having trouble acquiring IT talent.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) teamed up to publish “Northern Virginia IT Workforce Succession Planning Best Practices.” This new report builds on the pair’s previous work from the “Greater Washington Technology Workforce Needs Assessment” reports published in 2016 and 2018.

“Best Practices” shares findings about how IT employers in Northern Virginia are attracting, retaining and managing their tech talent. The research began with a survey of NVTC’s more than 1,000 members between January and July 2019 to find some general trends in IT hiring practices.

According to some key findings from the initial survey, employers are:

  • Having a difficult time obtaining and keeping IT talent
  • Looking to educational institutions to provide programs to attract and train IT workers
  • Offering more professional development and mentorship opportunities for their IT workers
  • Trying to provide more innovative benefits to attract IT workers

“The Northern Virginia tech community is in critical need of a larger, more developed workforce to sustain growth while continuing to create innovative products and services,” said outgoing NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg in a statement. “We encourage IT executives to use the best practices identified in this research to augment their existing IT succession planning for talent attraction, development, and retention.”

Why are these findings important? Because with Amazon’s second headquarters beginning its move into the region, the ecommerce giant promised to bring 25,000 tech workers over a 12-year period. If these tech employers are already struggling with retaining IT talent, what’s it going to be like when Amazon is done hiring? (Check out this article published in December 2018 about what Amazon’s move can mean for the DMV tech workforce.)

To dig deeper, the two organizations interviewed 13 anonymous C-suite executives from the NVTC members surveyed in the report about their specific HR practices. This group of executives work at small, medium-sized and large companies across Arlington, Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County. They were all asked the questions from the original survey, with a few followups.

One of the most notable findings from these interviews is that of the 13 executives, 10 said they are having difficulties retaining IT talent. The three executives who said they aren’t having difficulties all work for large companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Nine of the respondents said they are not concerned with potential IT worker retirements. Some of their reasons were because they have a young IT workforce and because they already struggle with obtaining and retaining mid-level talent. Some executives shared that they are more concerned with their IT talent getting poached by local competitors.

Respondents shared some of the innovative benefits their companies offer, which include employee referral bonuses, affinity groups, flex work schedules and generous parental and caregiver leave.

Download the report

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