It’s a common phrase, “technology is the wave of the future.” However, many would argue that it’s actually the wave of the present. Society as a whole is affected by the evolution of technology on a daily basis, whether at home, work or school. And in the enterprise, there is an immediate need to keep up with exponential market growth by adopting technologies that alleviate compliance and organizational stress. So tech company leaders and recruiters beg the question, “Where does this innovation, streamlining businesses across all industries, originate?”
Undeniably, there is a crunch for engineering talent across the nation, affecting the pool human resources executives can pull from to staff rapidly evolving technology companies. Engineering talent is in high demand nationwide, and New Jersey is on a mission to make innovation a top priority, even with Silicon Valley 3,000 miles away. By sustainably farming their own homegrown supply of engineers, “Garden State” companies that are directly involved in technology education will remain ahead of the curve.
So what does this mean, exactly, for tech companies looking to remain disruptive in a crowded space? It’s simple: innovate or stand down. This applies to both enterprise technology and to finding new ways to identify and recruit the next generation of homegrown engineering talent to ensure that companies maintain their technology edge. Partnerships with local educational institutions demonstrate a company’s dedication to investing in their own back yard, ultimately driving success for the community, the business and the industry as a whole.
These days, more and more U.S. high school students are applying for university programs in business tracks instead of the perceived-to-be-more-difficult math and sciences. What’s the draw for a majority of college freshmen, aside from academic ease? Money. There is an expectation of higher bonuses and salaries once out in the corporate world, drawing students closer to the financial fire, instead of the innovation sect. Another weighty factor is the number of overseas students attending U.S. universities, many of whom choose to pursue science and engineering tracks, as they are thought to be more glamorous and garner significant social support from students’ home countries. This leaves the U.S. student population falling short in math and science class rosters, lessening the pool of engineering talent to pull from on an ongoing basis.
Tech companies in New Jersey and nationwide should take advantage of the opportunity to motivate young talent to consider an engineering profession. This starts with partnering with academic decision makers, enabling students at the high school level to grasp the concepts of working in an engineering role. As a result, embedding technology into curriculum will inspire creativity and innovation; it will also bring out the confidence and desire inherent in countless students to do something different with their lives and make a difference in the innovation space. Internships, hands-on real industry experience and opportunities to network with technology professionals go a long way to obtain young talent’s buy-in that there are careers available outside the financial district in the city of their choice. Additionally, as society continues to value the idea of “going green,” technology is an alternative avenue for young students to jump on board the revolution by joining company ranks at a young age and encouraging the adoption of environmentally friendly ways to meet their business’ bottom line.
It’s the responsibility of technology business leaders in New Jersey and nationwide to foster this change in the academic realm, if significant growth in the engineering talent pool is to be expected moving forward. Companies must find ways to pique the interest of engineering students in their own backyards and show students that engineering is an exciting career path, creating opportunities for those who want to have a hand in the creation of new products and solutions that have the potential to transform the business world across all industries.
There are countless examples of U.S. technology companies that got a start in a garage or basement. Reflecting on this notion, business leaders must consider how this relates to grooming next-generation talent, as some of the largest names in the tech world started from an individual’s or a small group’s creative initiative. Business leaders must lead by example by getting young talent involved earlier than post-undergrad, showcasing how they too can be involved in multi-industry business challenges and the solutions created to resolve them. This will lay the groundwork not only for a new generation of engineers, but also for a generation of new innovators and creators, an essential piece of the puzzle for our evolving society.
Jesper Helt is the Chief Human Resources Officer at CommVault
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