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Viewpoint: A skilled tech talent flood is hitting the market – be prepared

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Patrick Callihan | PHOTO COURTESY OF TECH IMPACT

By Patrick Callihan
Guest Columnist

Forward Delaware, a program developed by the Delaware Department of Labor and the Workforce Investment Board, is creating a competitive advantage for our state by investing in building a diverse talent pool for the most in-demand careers, including information technology (IT). And a flood of that skilled talent is about to hit the market as a result of the $15 million in CARES Act funding that Gov. John Carney authorized for this program. 

Through the recently established Delaware IT Industry Council, employers across the state, in a cross-section of industries, identified the talent they need the most in IT. Not surprisingly, application development (coding), data management/analytics, cloud/networking, cybersecurity, and technical support were the top positions identified.

Tech Impact, leveraging our intermediary service named Tech Hire Delaware, has been working to place qualified candidates into training opportunities aligned with the needs identified by the employers. In partnership with the state’s best IT workforce development programs, we have placed individuals in many programs that include Code Differently, Zip Code Wilmington, Delaware Technical Community College, and The Precisionists.

For this effort to be successful, Delaware employers must recognize that technology skills are needed across every company and industry, familiarize themselves with the benefits these tech certification programs bring, and hire the talent that is being developed. 

Selecting the right program

Organizations like Tech Impact, Code Differently, and Zip Code Wilmington are training and skilling up a diverse workforce who are job-ready on day one. Talented youth, unemployed workers, and those looking to advance their skills and move up in their careers are all receiving training right now.

Businesses looking for entry-level talent should consider hiring from Tech Impact’s ITWorks, a free workforce development program that engages those with a high school diploma or GED. Within 16 weeks, the program’s graduates are ready for entry-level IT careers in IT support specialist roles. 

If mid-level tech talent is needed, turn to Code Differently and Zip Code Wilmington. The programs welcome students of all ages, career paths and backgrounds. Their employer network collaborates with the program to develop curriculums tied directly to their industry needs and then works with students on developing full-time positions in application development, data analytics, and web developers.

For those looking for talent in high-demand areas of cybersecurity, oracle database, Java and other IT-based tracks, turn to Tech Hire Delaware. The public-private initiative trains for mid-level tech jobs. Tech Impact acts as the intermediary with this program and is helping locate and recruit individuals who qualify and then match them with the relevant training programs, including Del Tech.

The Precisionists is a Wilmington-based organization that works to bridge the disability employment divide by helping major organizations develop a workplace that welcomes and accommodates individuals with disabilities. 

Why hire out of these programs? 

Employers must consider alternative pathways to meet the growing demand for tech talent. We simply cannot fill all the jobs available by relying on colleges and universities. While higher education always will play a role, these tech certification programs must be valued as well. They teach high-demand skills in three to six months, with graduates ready to immediate apply their education.

Tech certification programs also help businesses develop a diverse talent pool, further unlocking innovation.

State-supported apprenticeships 

Another pathway to meet the growing demand for tech talent are apprenticeships, which have been reimagined for the IT age right here in Delaware. They are providing opportunities for public/private partnerships that are a win-win for employers, employees, and the local economy. 

Employers can provide training specific to their needs, while apprentices gain an opportunity to earn while they learn a critical factor for mid-career professionals. Major corporations like Marlette Funding and JPMorgan Chase are taking on candidates as part of Delaware’s first IT apprenticeship program. 

All Delawareans will benefit from our tech economy. As we build out the tech talent pipeline in the state, we ask that businesses do their part by becoming an employer, advisor, or mentor to one of the certification program graduates. Help us find and grow a diverse pool of tech talent that will meet the state’s immediate and future hiring needs.  

Get connected and begin receiving resumes for skilled and diverse talent by going to techiredelaware.org and filling out the employer application.


Patrick Callihan serves as executive director of Tech Impact.

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