In Search of Next-Gen IT Talent

A new research project could help many CIOs and their HR and training departments better identify, recruit and retain quality IT talent, says publisher Adam Dennison.

IT talent: It's a white-hot topic right now, something that every CIO seems to be struggling with. Whether you're looking for specialists in cloud, big data or mobile--or you just need more business-savvy IT pros--the reality is most of you are in the market for more and better talent.

But why is this such an issue? Is the profession not cool or interesting enough for today's youth? Are our schools failing to introduce and prepare our young people for an IT career? This is such an important issue that Gary Beach, one of my mentors and the publisher emeritus of CIO, recently wrote a book, The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future.

"Remember that the education system is what feeds the talent pipeline for corporate IT departments--a pipeline that is drying up," Gary said in a recent column. "Every CIO has a professional obligation to get involved in the campaign to improve our nation's education system." He suggested pushing back against the popular notion that IT professionals are socially inept--we need IT pros who are good communicators--and educating local schools about the benefits of IT careers.

We're trying to help, too: CIO, along with one of our top business partners, is about to embark on a major ethnographic research project that we believe could help many CIOs and their HR and training departments better identify, recruit and retain quality talent.

I will say, though, that this project is not for the faint of heart: It is a qualitative research study that requires phone- and video-based interviews, as well as an observation period. That said, those who participate will get full access to all the data and be able to share the results with colleagues to make better decisions on who to recruit, hire, retain and promote.

If there is one thing I have learned during my tenure as publisher of this magazine, it is that CIOs are passionate about their careers and the differences that their teams make to their organizations. I've also seen that CIOs want to help each other succeed and advance their careers, as well as give back to their profession. My hope is that this project will give back to the CIO profession and help strengthen it for future CIOs.

If you're the head of IT in a large enterprise organization and are interested in participating in this project, please let me know and I will provide you more information.

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