Employers Move to Attract Tech Talent Before Graduation

Businesses are recruiting hires while they are still students, while ramping up training programs for current employees

Toyota’s North American unit is developing outreach programs aimed at attracting a new generation of talent through internships and other activities with universities, says CIO Manjit Singh. Here, a Toyota plant in San Antonio. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

Catching budding technology workers early in their careers—like before graduation—is emerging as a key recruiting strategy in the year ahead to help companies cope with a tight labor market.

As they nurture these early-stage workers, businesses are also putting emphasis on training existing employees in the latest digital tools.

Many employers are using internships, boot camps and other after-school programs to net promising candidates before they earn their degrees, chief information officers say.

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“We regularly engage with students to help build brand awareness and candidate pipelines,” said Ashley Pettit, CIO at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. The Bloomington, Ill., insurer has about 6,000 technology workers, she said, and a recent online career fair it organized attracted more than 3,000 job seekers.

Ms. Pettit was one of 30 information-technology executives who responded via email to CIO Journal’s annual end-of-year questionnaire about hiring and other issues.

CompTIA, an IT trade group, estimates that—despite ebbs and flows in the job market—the number of U.S. tech jobs is from 2016, compared with 10.7% for all occupations.

U.S. employers had more than 320,000 open IT jobs last month, led by software and application developers, the group said.

Net tech employment in the U.S. reached an estimated 11.8 million workers last year, up 2.3% from 2017, representing about 261,000 new jobs, according to CompTIA. Over the past decade, the number of tech jobs has increased by an annual average of 200,000 new positions, it said.

香蕉视频苹果下载The gains are driven by the spread of digital tools to companies across all sectors.

But rapid innovation also is boosting competition by creating IT needs that didn’t exist a few years ago. That is shrinking the pool of in-demand workers with unique skills and experience in areas including artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and blockchain.

“There is a general talent shortage in IT as the pace of technological change increases for all industries,” said Manjit Singh, CIO of Corp.香蕉视频苹果下载 ’s North American operations. The car maker is focused on developing outreach programs aimed at attracting a new generation of talent, he said, through internship programs and other development activities with universities.

Mark Boxer, Corp.香蕉视频苹果下载 ’s CIO, said the highest placement area for new college hires is in the company’s cybersecurity unit. To extend the reach of its recruiting efforts, the health insurer developed urban boot camps aimed at attracting underrepresented job candidates, including women and veterans, Mr. Boxer said.

Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO at France-based industrial company SE, said internal training programs are key to overcoming a shortage of qualified enterprise architects, data scientists and engineers, and job candidates with skills in robotics process automation, chatbots and artificial intelligence.

She said the company encourages employees to learn new skills on the job, while “giving them the latitude of trial and error.”

香蕉视频苹果下载Some employers aim to attract job candidates by highlighting the hands-on experience offered by a company committed to developing advanced technologies.

“We made a large investment in renovating our development spaces globally, which provides our teams with better tools and an environment where our engineers and scientists can do their best work,” said Nigel Faulkner, CIO at financial-services company Inc.

“Great tech talent wants to work with companies that are building a legacy of innovation,” said Mario Harik, CIO of Inc., based in Greenwich, Conn. He said the company sells job candidates on the opportunity to work with advanced technology.

Write to Angus Loten at angus.loten@wsj.com

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