The demand for skilled tech workers is creating more than a recruiting problem. Shortages for certain workers are driving up housing costs, as companies pay more to attract workers. At last week’s AWS (Amazon Web Services) Summit in Washington, D.C., Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) – who appeared on a panel at the event – expressed concern about how Amazon’s HQ2 will affect housing prices in the already competitive Northern Virginia region.
Warner, who has been a frequent critic of big tech, previously announced a list of 20 options for regulating web platforms. This included promoting competition for high tech jobs beyond the D.C. metro. It’s a way to keep housing costs more affordable, but also bring tech jobs to other parts of Virginia.
Today, the D.C. metro area has the highest demand for cybersecurity professionals in the country.
According to data from CyberSeek, the U.S. private sector posted more than 315,000 jobs for cybersecurity professionals from September 2017 to August 2018, up from 285,000 a year earlier. In some markets, notably D.C., the problem was more pronounced. Last fall the nation’s capital had more than 44,000 open cybersecurity jobs – compared to 20,000 in New York City, and 11,000 in Chicago.
A solution floated at the AWS Summit was for tech firms to recruit beyond the Beltway. Some tech firms have already begun to embrace such a strategy.
“We don’t disagree with the premise that working with universities outside the beltway can bring talent that we might not find otherwise,” said Marc Steining, COO at T-Rex Solutions, LLC, which has offices in Greenbelt, MD.
“Our strategy for reaching candidates from far and wide has been to build a one-of-a-kind talent platform leveraging open-source/open-web technology, job aggregators, and social media tools to propagate our message,” Steining told ClearanceJobs. “Every employee at T-Rex has access to these products and through them, anyone looking for a job in cloud or cyber will find our postings. That, coupled with efficient messaging about our best-in-class benefits such as 100% paid employee medical, tuition assistance and paid training helps us get engagement from qualified candidates.”
T-Rex Solutions is not alone in trying to create a culture that can draw in applicants from near and far. Other companies are taking this further by not just recruiting beyond the Beltway, but setting up shop outside of metro D.C.
“Sonu Singh’s vision – our CEO – when he started 1901 Group, was not that companies need to look to rural locations for talent but rather that companies should look to and move work to rural America, where there is a high quality of life, the cost of living is lower than urban, and where there is ample access to talented people such as in Blacksburg, VA with Virginia Tech, Radford University, and other higher education institutions nearby,” explained Brendan Walsh, senior vice president of partner relations at 1901 Group.
“1901 Group is expanding our investment in ‘growing IT talent’ through a recently launched Cloud Apprenticeship Program,” Walsh told ClearanceJobs.
The firm’s apprenticeship program was designed to attract people from three walks of life, including current IT professionals who seek to become more technical and cloud proficient; non-IT professionals who want to enter the tech industry; and students who want to pursue IT internships while in school and IT careers after graduation.
“Our approach is attracting new talent from a broader population,” added Walsh. “(It) helps us sustain ‘growing talent’ as opposed to ‘hiring talent away from competitors.'”
Maryland-based T-Rex Solutions also has another strategy that leverages its talent acquisition team.
“Our team learns technology, attends industry events, and participates in tech talks where qualified candidates live, to present opportunities as trusted peers,” said Steining. “They view us less as ‘recruiters’ and more as colleagues. This improves the candidate experience while simultaneously decreasing candidate attrition and pipeline conversion.”