FranConnect had one of its best years in 2013, and 2014 is looking to be even more promising, except for one problem we never expected – the ability to find and hire the most basic of talent.
We are a software products company and market leader for franchise organizations to manage and market their brand through cloud-based systems. As part of our commitment to our customers, we have always offered free dedicated Account Management and Support to our customers. To enable this, we try to hire people with analytical and problem solving skills – no prior technical experience needed.
Given our growth over the last few years, we are on an aggressive hiring spree. Unfortunately, given the abundance of government or consulting jobs in the Washington D.C. area, it’s very hard to hire employees with prior experience. So, about six months ago, we decided to aggressively hire college graduates and train them to become experts in our software and processes.
Over the last 6 months, we have placed recruitment advertisements with several different college campuses in the Washington D.C region, including: Virginia Tech, UVA, George Mason, George Washington, University of Maryland, and Northern Virginia Community College.
These jobs are advertised as Customer Success Managers and pay around 45K+ benefits. In essence, a job that carries a managerial title with a fast growing IT company with included benefits.
To our surprise, we have received less than 50 resumes combined over the last 3 months. Out of these 50 resumes, several of them belong to folks who have an accounting or liberal arts background, or lack the needed analytical skills for our industry. The most eye-opening concern with the lack of qualified candidates was that there were hardly any students with a Computer Science, IT or MIS majors who applied.
This result paints a grim picture of where we are headed as a country and how college students view IT as a profession. Here are my observations of what this means:
- As a nation, we are more focused on developing football players than students interested in STEM skills as a career. Based on a recent article in Atlantic magazine, every school in the country has a higher budget for supporting athletics and sports than math classes.
- For most children, it continues to be “uncool” to like math or science. According to my son, who is in eight-grade, it is not a good idea to talk about these subjects among his friends and others in school because you become an outcast the moment you mention these subjects. This societal mindset needs to stop immediately.
- We are failing to realize that software tools aimed to enhance productivity have become an integral part of our daily life both at home and work. Yet, the employees needed to develop, maintain and support these tools are nowhere to be found. We talk about unemployment issues in the United States, but I’ve seen the exporting of millions of jobs every year to India, Ukraine and others places in the world where programmers and IT professionals are more likely to be provided with opportunity and be hired.
- So, how do we alleviate these problems? Clearly, experts and academics have suggested dozens of approaches – from increasing focus on STEM fields, to teacher training, to competitions focusing attention on these fields at the high school level. My own solution is relatively simple: it is time to introduce a technology focused “Draft,” similar to a military draft. For this “Draft,” every college or high school student would be required to spend two years learning from a technology company, and even more so, spending time with companies that have exported millions of technology jobs to other countries. Once our American students see the comfort level of these jobs, they will want to acquire the necessary skills and insight during their “Draft” period education to then pursue fulfilling careers in the technology and STEM fields.
This guest post is courtesy of Amit Pamecha, CEO and Founder, FranConnect Software.