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Research: Talent Attraction Case Study (Nebraska)

Last summer, the Aksarben Foundation approached Chapman and Company about creating a landscape analysis on talent for Nebraska.  While this analysis is about Nebraska, there are many lessons for communities throughout the Silicon Prairie region. Here are some broad stroke lessons from the report: The United States is WAY behind on technology talent.  This is…

Nebraska Landscape Analysis Graphic

Last summer, the Aksarben Foundation approached Chapman and Company about creating a landscape analysis on talent for Nebraska.  While this analysis is about Nebraska, there are many lessons for communities throughout the Silicon Prairie region.

Here are some broad stroke lessons from the report:

  1. The United States is WAY behind on technology talent.  This is not a single community problem.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will have 3 million technology jobs in 2020.  Currently, there are only 1.6 million people with the skills and experience to fill those jobs.  Thus, the country as a whole is 40% short of needed technology workers.
  2. Every community feels this pain.  And the pain is more acute in certain communities – particularly small Midwestern cities – where talented IT and Math workers can add significantly more income by moving to certain locations (often larger cities).
  3. Omaha and Lincoln are a microcosm of the broader subset of twenty-five cities that the report compares regarding plan and strategy.  Essentially, every community has the same game plan: (a) recruit from cities that are larger, (b) plan on K-16 improvements, (c) small, disconnected efforts to build code schools or re-train.  More of the same is not going to work.
  4. Communities have to radically change their approach.  In the report, Chapman and Company recommends identifying true unique community qualities.  For example, quality of life is a universal point for every city.  Low, private school tuition is part of quality of life – but unique to certain places.  Lincoln Pius X is $1500 per year while providing a top tier education.  This is unique.  Microtargeting around these true competitive advantages is necessary to build an actual, unique, workable talent recruitment strategy.
  5. Retraining and Upskilling is incredibly important – but so is including people who have been disadvantaged from those career paths.  This may require new types of programming around job training (i.e. childcare in the evening, income while training to replace second job income, etc.).
  6. International programs are really important.  The Chapman and Company research suggests that most communities are woefully bad at recruiting international experts, retaining international students, and building an international pipeline.  One example of a community that has a plan is Des Moines –  (https://www.dsmpartnership.com/growing-business-here/business-resources/talent-development-resources/global-talent).

In short, the approach represented in the paper is to radically change around being more intentional and less conventional.  This basic structure is useful for every community – not just those in Nebraska.  SPN believes that it is a useful read for people outside of Nebraska.

The owner of Silicon Prairie News, the Applied Information Management Institute (AIM), is directly involved in the creation of new technology talent in Nebraska.  At the behest of AIM and the approval of the Aksarben Foundation, Silicon Prairie News is providing a complete copy of the report to interested parties.  This was not created on behalf of SPN or AIM – but it affects the broader region.

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