Shining a spotlight on IT

Posted on Oct 29, 2018 :: Feature
Posted by Kim Iversen

Roughly five years ago, a group of visionary leaders in Northeast Wisconsin gathered to discuss its growing concerns about the lack of information technology talent in the region.

This group became what is now known as the NEW IT Alliance. In 2015, they surveyed local businesses and learned
that by 2021 the region should anticipate more than 3,000 new IT positions, which would go unfilled given demographics. Despite this, and the fact that every company needs IT, enrollment in IT classes in high schools and higher education graduates has remained flat to declining. As a result, IT is one of the most difficult job positions for many companies to fill.

In 2016, the NEW IT Alliance hired a full-time director (that’s me) to help drive regional efforts to close the IT talent gap. In addition to fostering conversations and connecting organizations focused on the gap, the NEW IT Alliance
also hosts an annual job and career fair and is launching additional initiatives designed to help educate students and community members about the diversity of career opportunities within IT.

During this period, several other nonprofits also formed to support the region’s IT community. Amplify Oshkosh focuses on fostering a diverse environment where open sharing of best practices and emerging technologies is encouraged. Its monthly Ideas Amplified events bring together a cross section of IT students, professionals
and educators in a casual networking setting with a TED Talk-style presentation. Women in Technology aims to attract, grow and retain women and girls in technology-related careers. Its monthly breakfast series focuses on
bringing women together to network and connect through professional development presentations. WIT also reaches out to young women in middle school through WIT4Girls, and its WITonCampus works to foster mentor
relationships between female college students and professionals.

The efforts of these organizations, and many others, have created a strong sense of community and energy around IT in Northeast Wisconsin, and collaborative efforts between K-12, higher education and businesses will further help grow the tech community. With roughly 900 open IT positions in the region, we will need the help of these and many others to start closing the gap. Thanks to these organizations, as well as the partnership with Insight Publications on the new Insight on Technology magazine that you are reading, we hope to provide Northeast Wisconsin with the IT talent needed for regional companies to grow and thrive.

Kim Iverson is the director of the NEW IT Alliance.