For the technology sector, in any city, during any stage of its’ growth, talent (abundance or lack) is always a popular topic of discussion.
After talent, there is always a discussion of the availability of jobs (or not) to keep and attract said talent.
Over the past several months at NMTC, we have observed vastly different opinions from our members and in the press about these topics. Opinions range from a perceived lack of good tech jobs to an abundance of new jobs (brought about by expansions and recruitment) that we are unprepared to fill.
“In my first several weeks in Albuquerque, I have heard a recurring challenge from the business leaders I’ve sat down with: Good talent is hard to find. It’s also the NO. 1 complaint I heard from business leaders in Houston….West Michigan…and multiple other cites with vastly different economies for more than a decade,” — Candace Beek, Albuquerque Business First
“Any time I’ve tried to hire tech talent here, it’s hard. People don’t live here,” — Garrett Smith, Bryte Studio
“We picked Albuquerque because of the talent in this city.” — Shaun McHugh, Fidelity Investments
“Skilled talent is in short supply,”– Renay Moya, Robert Half Technologies
“Albuquerque scored at the top of every one of those criteria,”– Monty Hamilton, Rural Sourcing Inc. (referring to the high quality of life with a low cost of living, a talented and educated workforce, as well as a city that understands the digital economy)
The conversation doesn’t stop there. We talk about new job training programs. That’s good. Until it’s followed by talk of the lack of positions or adequate ways to place people once they are trained. That’s bad.
All this does not even cover the conversations about if we are reaching far enough into K-12 to attract and train the next generation of tech professionals. Or, whether we are paying enough (or too much) attention to the types of talent we need (millennial, baby boomer, women in tech).
It’s mind boggling.
AND, it’s encouraging.
We have something to talk about. The technology industry in New Mexico is establishing its identity and is having real growing pains. Sometimes we just need to say our worst fears out loud to see if our problems are real and our evolution as a business sector is normal. At some point it will all make sense and be good.
And it is good. We are seeing tech companies like Ideum grow their employee base. We are watching start-ups like Lavu receive significant investment and gain national attention. We are seeing new companies like Rural Sourcing establish new roots here in part because of our educated workforce. We are getting serious about job training and placement programs.
Just a few examples include:
- TalentABQ, led by Jamai Blivin of Innovate+Educate — on a mission to find 350 tech employees by the end of the year.
- CNM, through a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, will launch an information technology apprenticeship program for 300 students, bridging its students’ work skills gap over the next three years.
- FatPipeABQ and NMTC are officially launching a local chapter of Girl Develop It, a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.
All this to say, we probably have a talent gap. And yes, we need more good jobs for talented people. But, we are talking about it and that’s a start. In July, NMTC, CNM and other partners launched a series of discussions with community leaders, employers and tech talent all trying to figure out why there is such a disconnect.
The next step is for us, as a community, is to identify one or more categories of issues we can actually address and solve.
Kobe Bryant, a pro basketball player with five NBA titles and one of the game’s greatest scorer once said “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
The same is true for Albuquerque’s tech scene. The fact that we are facing these issues is a result of the opportunity we as the Albuquerque and New Mexico tech community have created. Let’s make the most of it and keep the tough conversations going.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on tech talent and jobs in New Mexico. Come see us at FatPipe or connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.