YiPs Find Skills and Jobs on Different Roads
May 17, 2010 Dan Burger
The Young i Professionals (YiPs) want your job. They’ll do the IT equivalent of cleaning out the stables, digging a ditch, or sweeping the shop. They’ll work part time, full time, Sundays, and holidays. Put them on the graveyard shift, if you have one. All they want is a chance to prove their worth. At the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition earlier this month, the YiPs told me they have plans to link people and jobs.
“We hope to create a matching process,” says Justin Porter, one of the YiPs with a desire to become more involved in the IBM i community. “We want to create a connection between employers and students that have graduated and are looking for jobs. We are hoping to go beyond the basic job boards and into social networking. Something needs to go beyond ‘we’re looking for someone, email if you’re interested.'”
“It’s also figuring out a way to connect people who may not be in the same geographic area,” says Brian May, another of the YiPs interested in providing the employer-employee match-making service. “Every time I talk with a group of business people they always say, ‘We can’t find talent.’ And every time I talk with students they say, ‘We can’t find jobs.’ There is a disconnect.”
If the YiPs are going to make the connection, that organization will need some help. The most logical source of assistance is the Power Systems: IBM i Academic Initiative (AI), where the YiPs already have a partnership that among other things allows them access to a Power Systems server running the i operating system. The AI is responsible for getting more IBM-centric technologies taught in two-year technical schools and four-year colleges and universities. One of its goals when it was ramped up several years ago was to fill a growing need for new professionals with IBM i experience. Now there’s a bit of a problem with finding jobs for those graduates.
“As AI continues to grow, the number of students in AI programs continues to grow. And there tends to be two problems in the job market,” says Porter. “One is companies looking for interns. And they have a hard time finding an intern who can do the specific set of skills they are looking for. And then you have graduates who can’t find an employer. I think the programs have become somewhat popular and you end up with local employers having their requirements filled and more graduates are coming out of the pipeline. The companies are saying ‘How many people do you want me to hire?'”
Porter believes there are jobs available, but they may not be where the students are graduating and it may take longer for students to find those jobs than what they were anticipating.
His advice to graduates is to take a job even if it is away from home and get valuable experience.
One of the YiPs attending his first COMMON conference is Richard Ogbechie, a recent beneficiary of an Academic Initiative program in South Africa. He works as an intern at a Johannesburg company, and was able to attend COMMON in Orlando courtesy of several sponsors who recognized his talent and his passion for improving the employment opportunities of his fellow students.
In South Africa, as in other locations around the world, the Academic Initiative brought together schools and employers to create a curriculum based on the skills the employers requested and the anticipated hiring needs. But in the time it took students to complete the course work and graduate, the hiring situation changed.
“We heard from the companies that their budgets were cut for hiring because of the recession,” Ogbechie says. “Even if the students learn the skills that iSeries shops asked for, there hasn’t been a pay-off. The expectation for getting a job, fed by what the companies have promised, is higher than the reality of the job market for those trained on the IBM i. We grew to be too successful.”
Unlike the circumstance in the United States, where a portion of the students are unwilling to leave their home turf for jobs in far off places, Ogbechie says the students he knows would take a job regardless of where it is. A service that can bring together jobs and potential employees with skills would be valuable for everyone involved.
The combination of YiPs and the Academic Initiative staff can help both sides realize a social-networking jobs site could be available, Porter says. “They (the Academic Initiative folks) can talk to the educators and we have a lot of connections through COMMON. We’re all in the business world. We are connected to the vendors. There are people on both sides of the employment issue that don’t know how to connect. That’s the missing link.”
One of the alternatives that Ogbechie says is being tried is to develop an outsourcing program that may be attractive to companies with projects that they are unable to dedicate the resources to at this time.
“Give those projects to us and we will put four or five programmers on it,” is his message to IBM i shops.
There might be the opportunity in South Africa to be a source of outsourcing projects, Porter says. It could have great potential and just be waiting to happen.
One of the obstacles to hiring is companies requiring so many skills that it becomes unreasonable to find the ideal candidate. May suggests this can be avoided.
“Businesses are listing maybe 15 skills when they go to HR for hiring a new employee,” he says. “But if you sit down and talk to the IT department, they really only need two of those skills. The rest are nice to have, but the reality is that when the person is hired they are really only going to work on the two priorities.”
The other built-in obstacle to that scenario is that companies don’t want to pay for an employee who has all the skills they are requiring. It’s like buying software with features you never get around to using.
What the YiPs want to do, May says, is help out, but not become recruiters. “As we go down the road of trying to help with the employment issue from both sides, we will provide an infrastructure for people to use, but we’re not the ones doing the professional recruitment,” he says.
Wanting to be the job facilitators and actually putting the pieces together to make it happen is not the same thing. For now, it remains in the discussion phase with no clear course of action.
If you work for a company looking to expand the staff so that new projects can be undertaken, contacting the YiPs would be a good idea. They are a motivated, forward-looking group and a logical place to look for talent. A graduate or active professional with skills should look to YiPs for the same reasons.