What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

IT execs tout Oracle software, ask state to help train workers

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: October 26, 2012 - 6:18 PM

High-paying jobs are available for people who learn how to run a key software program used by retail companies, several executives told Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday.

And they’d like to see the state establish a training program.

Information technology executives from companies like Best Buy, Scheels, Von Maur and Gander Mountain – and a company called Logic Information Systems – came together Friday at North Hennepin Community College to tout the value of teaching students Oracle Retail software.

The software allows companies to track purchasing, shipping, inventory and sales in stores and on the Internet. It makes forecasts and helps guide an entire retail business. Every large retail company has some type of software like it, but Oracle’s program is widely used, and companies need people who know how to operate it.

“I actually could hire three people today if I could find people with a little experience,” said Armand Nelson, information systems director at Gander Mountain.

And these jobs would pay easily more than $80,000, several of the executives said.

Amber Naqvi, president of retail and distribution at Logic Information Systems, said he’s offered to give community colleges access to the extremely expensive software, and train instructors to train students. The program could be up and running in 90 days.

It’s not clear how many jobs are available, but a low estimate is 150, Naqvi said. His company helps implement the software for companies. One notable exception from the list of firms that uses Oracle is Target Corp.

Education and company officials planned a follow-up meeting for next week.

Bruce Lindberg, executive director of Advance IT Minnesota, pointed out that being ready for one of these jobs is not as simple as learning how to run the program, however. Employees must know how their company operates and how the information should be used, which comes down to a set of skills that’s more difficult to quantify.

“You need to know something about how the business functions,” he said.

In any case, the IT services industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of Minnesota’s economy, according to the government’s office.

Minnesota has a long history of leadership in information technology. In 2011, the industry contributed over 96,378 direct Minnesota jobs totaling more than $8.1 billion in wages. Employment in IT services is expected to grow by 22 percent over the next 8 years with average earnings per employee of over $60,000 per year.  

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