Tackling The Tech Talent Shortage

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, May 14th 2014

Today’s shortage of qualified IT workers is no secret.  This is a part of the larger problem of the skills gap and the even larger STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, Math) crisis.  One way in which Green House Data has started to combat this shortage is through a partnership with the University of Wyoming.

University of Wyoming LogoUniversity of Wyoming’s Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP) is a partnership program which helps unify the skills taught in the classroom and those used in the real world. Companies are able to make sure that students are taught applicable material while in school through direct interaction with professors.  At the same time, companies gain access to a large pool of qualified, entry-level candidates.  The IAP gives students opportunities such as internships, jobs, and most importantly, knowledge that will be relevant when they graduate. Through the IAP, Green House Data is ensuring that data center skills and information are incorporated into the STEM education at the University of Wyoming.

Green House Data chose to start addressing the STEM skills shortage at the college level because, “by 2018, 92% of traditional STEM jobs will be for those with some post-secondary education and training” (NMS). This is true not just of STEM jobs, but also data center careers, which require certification and technical training for software and facilities.  These certifications are offered by companies and organizations like VMware, Dell, and IEEE. (Green House Data’s technicians have quite a few certifications!)  At higher levels in the data center, even more education is needed.  Next year will be the very first year a master’s degree in Data Center Engineering will be offered at any university in the country.  Southern Methodist University cited the US Department of Labor when announcing the program, saying that at least 4 million workers are associated with data centers today, and that number is projected to grow 50% by 2018.  This rapid growth should signal other schools to start working on similar projects.   For now, the best way to deal with the talent shortage is to work with local schools to incorporate data center learning into other STEM majors.

The STEM crisis is a national issue, but unfortunately this issue has been magnified by the location of Green House Data headquarters. Cheyenne is an ideal location for a data center.  There are relatively few natural disasters in the area, which helps to ensure that data remains safe.  The location also lowers prices because of the access to wind power, state tax incentives, and lower cost of living.  While Cheyenne may be a wonderful location for a data center, it is still a relatively small city.  The small population mixed with the national shortage of data center workers means that Cheyenne data centers are constantly competing to hire and keep qualified employees.  In most cases, Green House Data staff are hired at entry level and then promoted from within.  However, as a company growing at such an accelerated rate, Green House Data has definitely felt the effects of the talent shortage.  The partnership with University of Wyoming is the first step in shrinking the talent gap.

“We are very proud to be partnered with Green House,” said James Caldwell, head of the Computer Science Department.  “Green House Data is a Silicon Valley style success story right here in Wyoming. They’re able to offer exactly the kind of internships and jobs we hope to find for our students.  Ten years ago most of our graduates ended up going down to the Front Range for work.  More and more, with companies like Green House Data, they can pursue outstanding high-tech careers right here at home in Wyoming.”

The STEM crisis cannot be solved overnight, but companies like Green House Data, can take steps to start shrinking the gap locally.  By working with the University of Wyoming, the magnification of the larger skills gap will hopefully start to disappear.

Posted By: Jenny Fukui