Laura A. Schmidt, Chief Talent Development Officer, MKE Tech Hub Coalition
Technology is rapidly transforming traditional, essential industries through the embedding of technology into products and processes. This trend of “every business as a tech business” has accelerated the need for tech talent in the region. The Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition is comprised of member companies and non-profit organizations committed to doubling the tech talent in the greater MKE region by 2025.
To meet the need, a broader reskilling of our existing, diverse talent base is required to demonstrate a commitment to the MMAC ‘Region of Choice’ pledge. This requires we rethink tech talent acquisition in a manner that demonstrates a commitment for local tech talent development. Reskilling into tech (and/or tech enabled) occupations is important as these positions provide the greatest likelihood for upward mobility and is currently the fastest growing area of employment in Wisconsin.
While a commitment to this work is good for the community, it is also good for business as those that employ talent from non-traditional talent sources report an overall lower acquisition cost, greater employee engagement, and improved retention than those from more traditional sources. Teams also report increased innovation from the introduction of new perspectives and ideas. We are starting to see staffing firms embracing this as the new normal. Employers now have the choice of paying those firms to develop diverse entry level talent with the hope of acquiring it someday or growing their own. The shift to remote work has opened new doors to virtual ‘just-in-time’ learning as well.
However, training programs that ignore barriers to access and the need for a pathway to employment are rarely successful. That is where partnerships with our local workforce development boards, charitable foundations, community organizations, and employers who embrace the need for change within their own organizations is so important.
The Coalition recently developed a ‘Reskilling Opportunities’ page to start consolidating these opportunities for those seeking new opportunities. We have many programs currently being evaluated to build additional capacity as well. If you are an employer who would like to engage in our collective efforts, please check out the characteristics of a ‘Model Employer’ on our website and reach out for a consultation so that we can connect you to initiatives aligned to shared objectives.