Linking up

NEW Connect IT job fair connects students, skilled techies with companies

Posted on Sep 27, 2018 :: New North
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

With about 3,000 information technology positions opening in Northeast Wisconsin in the next three years, the NEW IT Alliance is looking toward the future.

To help connect employers with job seekers and educate students about the job opportunities available in IT, the NEW IT Alliance is hosting an IT-focused job and career fair on Nov. 14 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. This is the second year for the NEW Connect IT event. Last year, it was held at Fox Valley Technical College, but due to the great response for the event, a larger site was needed for 2018.

“The goal is to continue to support initiatives to build the pipeline of IT talent and to be able to show students as well as professionals in the community the abundance of IT career opportunities that are available in Northeast Wisconsin,” says Cindy Enli, talent acquisition manager for J. J. Keller & Associates and a member of the event’s planning committee. 

That 3,000 available jobs estimate may be on the low side, says NEW IT Alliance Director Kim Iversen.

“We don’t have numbers yet for the replacement of existing employees who will be retiring in the next few years,” she says. “Plus, most of the data we have right now is pre-Foxconn.”

Foxconn announced plans last summer to open an innovation center in downtown Green Bay that would employ 200, many of whom would be in the IT field.

Last year, the NEW Connect IT event brought in 244 high school students, 50 college students and 30 community job seekers. With Microsoft and TitletownTech as sponsors this year, the event made the leap to Lambeau and is working with regional colleges and groups such as TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) to increase the number of students attending.

“By bringing in those college students who are looking for internships and post-graduation career opportunities, that really provides a lot of benefit to the employers,” Iversen says.

Companies also benefit from brand recognition and helping the future workforce understand the availability
of robust opportunities in the region, she adds.

The event includes a traditional career fair with booths for employers and regional educational institutions.

“There’s also more of a close look at IT, with a talent café where individuals can talk with someone in an IT profession,” Enli says. “It’s intended to be a one-on-one conversation to learn about different career paths.”

Iversen and the event committee want students to realize they don’t need to leave the state to have the opportunity to work with new technologies.

An expanded tech demo area with breakout rooms will showcase “cool, sexy technology that we hear about and often associate with Silicon Valley, like artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality,” Iversen says. “That technology is leveraged by so many of our companies right here in Wisconsin.”

Northeast Wisconsin is not alone in the talent crunch. Even without figuring in Foxconn’s talent needs in the Milwaukee area, the Milwaukee 7 economic development organization anticipates 31,000 new jobs in the next five years, a third of which will be in technology-related careers, Iversen says.

“Historically we are an upland recruiting region for Milwaukee, and with such a demand down in their space, we’ll certainly feel the impact of that up here,” she says. “At the same time, we’re trying to fill the needs of our own employer space.”

Enli says the NEW Connect IT Career/Job Fair provides companies with the opportunity to start building relationships with the future IT workforce, and to showcase what they do for students starting to plan their academic pathways.

“There’s definitely more demand (for IT talent) than there is supply, and it’s growing,” Enli says. “I think a lot of individuals don’t think about all the different kinds of careers in the technology space.”

NEW Connect IT Career/Job Fair

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 14

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay

Visit to sign up for this free event.