In an economic climate that has most of the nation plagued with job loss and lack of substantial industry growth we here in the Bay Area are suffering from a different set of challenges. The technology industry has been in a stage of revival since entering into an innovation cycle that mirrors the rapid technology growth of the late 1990’s. As a result, Taos is experiencing an increase in demand for senior infrastructure technologists that have been troubleshooting and optimizing the core web technology for the last decade. These individuals are also referred to as Sys Admins, Site-Reliability Engineer, Operations Engineers, and the newest term Dev Ops Engineers.
Thanks to a great letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle by our very own Jeff Luchessi, EVP of Managed Services, Taos received an opportunity to comment on and bring more awareness to the current IT talent shortage. Taos CEO, Ric Urrutia was featured this week in a short news story on KCBS.
Similar to the early start-up days, Tech companies continue to be creative with compensation packages offering everything from equity, to free oil changes to complimentary weekly massages. Though the perks are great tools to help recruit talent, many companies continue to struggle to fill their open infrastructure roles. While unemployment is still pervasive in the US, there is not enough local talent to fill all of these vacancies. In addition, many companies are fighting to retain their top talent due to a job hopping culture that is fueled by the enticement of new and more exciting technology to play with as well as a start-up culture which promises early retirement on the heels of a big IPO. The combination of a small pond of talent and the temptation of ever greener pastures has Taos thinking and operating differently to solve the talent shortage.
The approach to solving the talent shortage is not one size fits all. First, we need to distinguish the difference between a long-term and short term solution. In order to address immediate needs, Taos is looking for talent outside of the Bay Area. On the surface, this may seem like a flashback to the late 90’s when Bay Area companies were aggressively importing talent from around the globe, but today’s approach is different. Much of the technical talent outside of the Bay Area gained their skills in Silicon Valley and have chosen to relocate to a region of the country where the cost of living is lower. They’re not interested in returning to the Bay Area, but they are eager to remain engaged with bleeding edge technology and the innovative atmosphere that the Bay Area offers. To solve this particular challenge, Taos is turning to technologies such as web, video and audio conferencing, wikis, IM, and a host of other collaboration tools designed to drive productivity for the distributed work-force. These increasingly sophisticated tools supported by a knowledge base of best practices and a local Senior Practice Leader presence has allowed for Taos to respond quickly and add immediate value to clients in desperate need of top technical talent. With offshoring becoming a dirty word, especially in the political arena, Taos is bringing jobs back to the US through their campaign to provide an onshore alternative to outsourcing. In support of this effort, Taos has set up shop in Boise, ID where it boasts a Service Center of over 80 employees with technology skill sets ranging from desktop support through level 3 infrastructure support across networking, servers, and databases.
So, how to solve the long-term problem of the talent shortage? Universities are reporting a marked decline in students entering technical fields of study and are continuing to struggle to attract female talent to this field. Part of that decline could be in reaction to the outdated curriculum being offered by many Computer Science and MIS programs at many universities. In an effort to develop the next generation of gurus, Taos is exploring partnerships with local educational and training programs while continuing to develop our own training programs for Taos employees. These programs are placing a heavy emphasis on some of the hottest technologies and skills in demand today including Puppet, Python, monitoring tools, Hadoop, noSQL, on demand cloud solutions such as AWS, and more. Taos also hosts events designed to build a sense of community among women who have already chosen a career in technology both at the individual contributor as well as at the leadership level. The goal is to nurture those who have taken a technical path and encourage them to reach out to one another as well as to the next generation of female technologists. As these programs develop technical talent evolve, we will continue to share our experiences and stories around this important initiative.
If you are interested in learning more about the types of opportunities Taos has to offer please don’t hesitate to contact us.