Why did Amazon bypass Minneapolis as a finalist for its second headquarters? There is not enough technology talent here to meet the demand within the desired time frame.

A shortage of talent and an inability to scale the technology workforce are factors that knocked out not only Minneapolis but also others in the running. This is a wake-up call for the entire state as well as companies that call Minnesota home.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Tech Cities 1.0 Report recognizes the Twin Cities as a region that offers a reasonable cost of living and quality career opportunities, making it attractive for workers with technology skills. Yet these amenities don’t seem to be enough to draw the talent companies need today and in the future.

Demand for tech talent continues to rise in the Twin Cities. In the past 15 months, Minnesota has seen a more than 56 percent jump in the number of job postings related to emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain.

The Twin Cities trail other cities competing for Amazon’s HQ2 project in available technology based on our study of the labor market. Evaluating multiple data sources, we have found that the Atlanta and Dallas talent pools are approximately three to four times the size of the Twin Cities talent pools.

For example, there is a larger talent pool of consultants skilled in Java, .Net and C+ development in Dallas and Atlanta than in Minneapolis. This holds true across the board for skills such as agile coach/scrum masters, DevOps engineers and data/business intelligence architects and analysts.

Cities like Minneapolis that were not selected as finalists for Amazon’s HQ2 project should reflect on what they need to do to be more competitive for future expansion opportunities.

Indeed, some of these cities are creating programs to build a digital-ready workforce through training or developing strategies. Others are seeking alternatives to attract tech workers to their city to build larger and deeper talent pools.

In Minnesota, LinkedIn reports that the net influx of tech workers in 2017 was about 600, which while a meaningful number, is not enough to meet growing demand.

“Workforce strategy will be key, starting with understanding the technology capabilities that exist within the organization today and gauging the technology direction to use time to build towards the future,” said Angelia Brekke, managing director for Genesis10.

“The tight labor market, supply and demand and immigration reform are compounding factors.”

Specifically, our Twin Cities office is finding it challenging to recruit for Java, DevOps and security skill sets due to the tight labor market and our clients’ need for technical resources with specific business and/or domain knowledge which further limits the talent pool, according to Chris Roe, recruiting manager at Genesis10.

Genesis10 surveyed IT executives at Fortune 1000 companies across the country to understand how they are responding to the tight labor market. We learned:

• Leveraging staff augmentation continues to be a popular strategy the nation’s CIOs use to meet their immediate technology talent requirements.

• Capitalizing on location strategy and the onshore model continues to increase as a talent acquisition strategy to offset constraints inherent in other options as well as a means to tap into other labor markets.

• Global offshoring is an option CIOs choose to deploy less often due to the current administration’s shifting immigration policies and our clients’ need for more business and contextual knowledge.

• CIOs are less likely to seek assistance from management-consulting firms, a reflection of continued pressures to hold down costs. Executives are leveraging other contingent workforce providers to support execution and sustainment work.

When we conducted this survey one year ago, training was not in the mix. Executives are realizing that they need to employ a multipronged strategy to attract, retain and scale their workforce which will include building capabilities through training and capitalizing on location strategy to access talent within the U.S.

The war for talent is heating up in the Twin Cities. The pressure is on to scale tech talent in Minnesota.

 

Ami Sarnowski is the chief innovation officer at Genesis10, a Strategic Workforce Partner in St. Paul.