High Unemployment = Talent Wars 2011??
August 26, 2011:
I find it simultaneously very interesting and in some ways scary that two realities have begun to co-exist in the last 1.5 years. A topic for discussion that has come up while participating on the TechAmerica HR committee here in Portland is how we attract technical talent to Portland Oregon. This is a different subject entirely but helps to give a glimpse into the two realities I suggest. In a state where unemployment traditionally is higher than the national average (although we are ahead of the curve by .1% currently) at a rate of 9.1% we still find that technical jobs in Portland can languish unfilled for longer than I would like to admit being a provider of services in finding talent.
I am sure you can see the dilemma. Why bring more people to a state that has pre-existing 9.1% unemployment? The response is easy enough but more complex when you scratch the surface. The 9.1% unemployed do not represent the talent needed to fill the technical jobs that are open. Our clients are hunting for software engineers that have experience with mobile apps development (droid, apple), Software quality assurance, .net development and a whole host of other software, hardware, and i.t. skills.
Here is the scary part, and check out this article by the Electronic Recruiters Exchange (ERE)
as supplemental visibility into the scariness, it is not just here in Portland.
What if we had annual GDP of something greater than the abysmal 1.0%? (revised today down from 1.3%) What if we were actually in an economy that was really growing and creating strong demand? Do we have the right talent in volume here (Portland) or anywhere in the U.S.? I am unsure. It possibly would just create musical chairs between companies and a massive shift to employee strength work environment. Great for employees in the short-term but leads to wage inflation. Sounds good but ultimately it is bad for businesses. That kind of "bad for business" means they have to look elsewhere for the talent. In Portland at least I don't think we can support real growth and it will only perpetuate the overseas outsourcing of jobs which is bad for employees and our community. I think everyone ultimately is hurt in this scenario but especially small businesses. In many cases they do not have the capital, especially in PDX where VC and Private Equity $$ flows at a slower pace, to pay for that talent or effectively outsource overseas. Talent is key to grow our local and U.S. economy and attracting it to Portland is only a tiny piece of the answer.