Business, Economics and Jobs

High-tech companies say they can't find people to hire

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A resident engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explains how engineering design uses mathematics to middle school students. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carol E. Davis)

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With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent since April, job seekers are spending months, if not years, looking for work.

But according to a new report by the financial services firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, high-tech jobs are growing nearly four times faster than the national average. The report also shows that venture capital is driving the job boom, with high-tech accounting for 50 percent of total venture capital funding over the past year.

Companies say it’s difficult to find and recruit talent, because there is a dearth of qualified engineers. So what is the answer to the high-tech job glut, and can the industry sustain it?

Jeanne O’Keefe, senior vice president of Mathworks, a Natick, Mass. company with 250 job openings, says qualified candidates are hard to find and there is a lot of competition for them. "There is a tremendous demand for good, qualified technical people -- there's a lot of competition out there for good technical jobs," she said.

Mo Koyfman, principal at Spark Capital, says schools aren't preparing students for high-tech jobs and America needs to shift from a manufacturing economy to an information and services economy.

"We definitely find a dearth of technical talent, even in the technical hubs our country, like Silicon Valley and increasingly in New York and other markets," Koyfman said. "That just points to a fundamental mismatch of the kinds of talent we're producing as a country and the kind of talent that we need to drive innovation and growth in this country."

In addition to a focus in science and technology in the educational system, Koyfman says the US also needs an immigration policy that favors bringing in technical talent from other countries.

"We need to bring people into this country," Koyfman asserts, "immigration is a really, really important thing in terms of bolstering our current technical ranks here."

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