June 28, 2008 12:00 AM (From the June 30, 2008 issue),
"Down To Business: St. Louis Gets Serious About Tech Talent"
By Rob Preston,
Employers are regularly criticized for overstating the IT labor problem, or for doing little to rectify it. But give some credit where it’s due.
There’s been much acrimony, and a fair bit of navel gazing, nationally on the subject of attracting and retaining IT talent.
Employers are regularly criticized–unfairly or not–both for
overstating the problem and doing little to rectify it. But give some
credit where it’s due.
The St. Louis business community, having identified tech talent as a shared concern through local organizations such as the IT Coalition
and CIO Board, last July launched a program called Greater St. Louis
Works. The goal: Define the scope of the region’s IT talent challenges
and figure out ways to address them. The guiding principle: Regional
economic development isn’t just about dangling tax incentives and other
subsidies in front of companies. It’s increasingly about assuring local
companies, and those considering moving in, that they’ll have access to
enough talented tech professionals, so critical to driving every
The program’s organizers, led by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association
(RCGA), spent the first six months hosting a series of "knowledge
exchanges," bringing together 50 to 100 people at a time from a cross
section of local constituents: IT organizations, vendors, and
professional associations; staffing and HR groups; colleges and
universities; and state and local government agencies. Subjects still
under discussion include enhancing workforce diversity, improving
communications, charting career paths, and helping those who’ve been
outsourced or laid off to bounce back. For a deep dive into what the
organizers have learned and now propose to do, encapsulated in a
50-page report, go to www.greaterstlouisworks.org, where you’ll also find sections on hot jobs and skill sets, career resources, and more.