I wrote a story in April that ended up being about jobs in big data
, but the story could just as easily have been a more modest one about a specific program at Metro State University.
The specifics of the program ultimately got lost in the story, which took a wider look at a growing job sector. Let me try to rectify that here.
The person in the lede of the story was Kossi Gavi, a student who was taking a Sunday class on Oracle Retail, a heavy-duty software program that allows companies like Best Buy, Gander Mountain, Scheels and Von Maur to track purchasing, shipping, inventory and sales in stores and on the Internet. A well-trained programmer could get the software to work with other Oracle products and open-source programs.
The program is very specific, and the training in it was designed to fit a specific need. The software, developed initially by a Minnesota company called Retek (since acquired by Oracle), is widely used, and companies need people who know how to operate it. Gavi and about 20 other students were taking an independent study class that was put together quickly with the help of Logic Information Systems, a local firm that consults for companies that use Oracle Retail.
“Right now, on Oracle Retail, there’s a huge opportunity,” said Chris Hubbs, director of demand planning for Best Buy. “There’s not a lot of people who know how to work on it.”
Several companies in retail-rich Minnesota told Gov. Mark Dayton last November
that about 150 jobs are available running the software, with wages easily at $80,000 a year. Logic’s president, Amber Naqvi, said he could hire five of the 20 students in the independent study by himself.
So Logic provided the software and digital storage space, Metro State provided a classroom and selected 20 management information systems students for the class, and the retailers said they’d provide summer internships. Former Oracle engineer Anil Rao taught the class, which started this past semester.
One of the students, Christina Wood, was so persuaded that there's strong demand for people who know the program that she quit her job as an auditor for the state of Minnesota to learn the software.
“I really want to get a job in this, and that’s why I’m here,” the 37-year-old said.
What Naqvi was proud of was not that the class was an example of demand for jobs handling large amounts of data, but that the class was a useful partnership between MNSCU, Advance IT, and his company to fill a need for businesses and help make Minnesota a stronger hub for the heavy lifting of running a retail business.
He called it “an exemplary private public partnership to close the skills gap in Minnesota and create/keep high paying jobs in Minnesota.”
It's hard to disagree.