December 13, 2005
Annual Employment Panel
Times are changing right before our eyes. What skills are in demand and what do we have to do to recruit and retain talent? Each December we bring together a panel of courageous people to tell us what they see in Colorado employment trends. Then, we ask them to predict the next year. Please register early. This tends to be a popular and useful meeting each year.
We will bring together a panel representing recruiting, industry, and government. The panel members will be: Reid Cornwell (representing education), John Picanso (State CIO) and Carl Mather (representing IT recruiting).
As Chief Information Officer for the State of Colorado, John Picanso is responsible for leading the Office of Innovation and Technology; monitoring trends and advances in communication and information resources and data processing; coordinating the statewide IT planning and budgeting processes; and developing policies and procedures for statewide IT standards.
Picanso has been with the Department of Agriculture for nearly seven years. His duties included leading technology development efforts in the areas of Homeland and agrosecurity; preparedness and response, livestock disease surveillance, data collaboration and integration, and risk assessment and mitigation. Prior to joining the Department, Picanso worked for USDA/APHIS, Veterinary Services serving 13 western states, and was a research associate at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.
Under his leadership at the Department of Agriculture, Picanso and his team were the recipients of the 2002 CIO 100 Award for “enterprise integration,” and the 2002 Infoworld 100 Award for implementing web services within the enterprise. In 2003, he was named “CIO of the Year,” by the Colorado Information Managers Association.
W. Reid Cornwell, PhD
Carl Mather, a panel member, was recently quoted in the Denver Business Journal:
tech players feel need for workers
Denver Business Journal
statistics suggest the technology industry lags behind the rest of the state's
economy, local recruiters say small tech companies are hiring at a rate not seen
since the tech boom of the late 1990s.
The organization more than doubled from 60 to 135 members in the past year. It had about 300 members at its peak in 2000.
After the tech bubble burst, Barman said, about half of the tech recruiters he knows were out of work -- himself included. Many recruited in other industries. Others left recruiting altogether to pursue more lucrative jobs, such as selling mortgages.
But now, the CTRN is planning a training conference in 2006 and hosts regular speakers during its monthly meetings -- events that would have been unthinkable during the recession, said Barman, a member of CTRN's board of directors.
Recruiters say much of the hiring activity is occurring within small software companies -- particularly those that specialize in enterprise software to help businesses operate more efficiently.
Jobs in the "information"
sector (which includes telecommunicatons, publishing and some software products)
declined by 3.5 percent in the last year, according to the Colorado Department
of Labor and Employment.
Other tech hot spots that might be defined as business services include storage, network security and technical projects related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Carl Mather, director of client services for EDP Recruiting Services in Englewood, agreed that many of the new job requests are from smaller, niche-oriented software companies.
Mather speculates for
every Level 3 Communications Inc. and Oracle Corp. that cut 400 jobs in 2005,
there might be several hundred small tech companies adding one to five new
Patty Silverstein, president of Littleton-based economic consulting firm Development Research Partners Inc., said she's also heard talk that the tech sector is rebounding, but she concurs the growth appears to be coming from small businesses.
"More than 3,700 companies in the Denver area are classified as software companies and 80 percent of those are small, privately held entities with 10 employees or less," Silverstein said. "Combined, that's pretty significant, but by themselves, they're not making headlines."
Regardless, Silverstein said such companies are critical to the state's economic health because they create jobs, enhance the state's entrepreneurial spirit and drive merger-and-acquisition activity.
Although economic developers stress the need to attract large employers to the state, Silverstein claims the smaller, entrepreneurial companies can adapt to changes in the economic climate more quickly.
While the state's 95,000 information technology workers represent only about 4 percent of the state's total work force, the sector is instrumental in attracting new investments that help the economy, Silverstein said.
Among other states, Colorado ranked No. 3 for Small Business Innovation Research grants and No. 4 for long-term job growth and venture capital investment, according to a cumulative report released by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Silverstein said it's worth noting that tech entrepreneurs who could live anywhere in the country are choosing Colorado as their base of operations.
One reason entrepreneurs like Colorado might be the state's high number of college-educated workers. A recent report from the American Electronics Association showed Colorado ranked No. 2 nationally for college degrees per capita.
Mather said software
developers with senior-level skills are in high demand these days -- especially
those familiar with new programming languages, such as Microsoft Corp.'s CSharp.
Darryl Hoogstrate, managing partner for The Innovar Group, said the firm spends 90 percent of its time recruiting IT talent throughout the Front Range. Hoogstrate said in 2005 the Innovar Group experienced 100 percent placement growth over the previous year.
"Due to the tremendous IT hiring growth that we have recently experienced, along with projected budgets in 2006, we are preparing to double our office space and internal staff in the next two months," Hoogstrate added in an e-mail message.
Even the larger, recognized Denver companies are seeking more IT help. Chip Bowen, lead recruiter of staffing for Qwest Communications International Inc., said the Denver-based Baby Bell added 78 new IT employees in 2005, compared with 26 in 2004.
Steve Wille is among the highly skilled tech workers who benefited from the sector's apparent recovery.
Wille, a software developer for about 15 years, did a string of temporary, contract gigs with various companies until he found his latest position on Monster.com, a popular Web site for job seekers. He is now an associate manager for financial systems at Great-West Life in Greenwood Village.
Many discouraged people left the tech sector after the bubble burst, leaving abundant opportunities for those who opted to stay, Wille said.
But pay scales for programmers, which approached six figures at the height of the tech boom, have cooled significantly.
"I make less than what I
made then, but I'm happy to do it," Wille said, adding that he and many
programmers were "overpaid" during the boom -- a factor that contributed to
higher unemployment levels when the boom went bust. "I think the pay levels are
more realistic now."
RMIMA Home Page | Contact information | Board members | About RMIMA