FACT: By 2020 there will be an estimated 1.4 million tech jobs in the US but only 400,000 people to fill those roles. In West Michigan software developers, systems analysts and information security professionals are anticipated to have job growth of over 20% in the next 10 years.

West Michigan Works! officially launched West Michigan Tech Talent (WMTT), a program that brings together employers, education providers and workforce experts to create and sustain a diverse pool of IT talent while promoting West Michigan as a thriving IT community.

WMTT hosted a launch event on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. at Founders Brewing Company. The event was an opportunity for local employers, educators and workforce groups to learn how to get involved and become a WMTT member.

“West Michigan Tech Talent is an opportunity for employers to drive collaboration across the region to support jobs and attract and retain top tech talent in West Michigan,” said Joe Thiry, Information Technology Lead at West Michigan Works! “We’re fortunate to have local employers on board to drive this program and help us find ways to cultivate tech talent and jobs here in our community.”

WMTT aims to grow future talent, develop current talent and recruit diverse talent to West Michigan. It accomplishes this through member participation in one or more workgroups on topics including:

  • Reaching out to students K-16 to promote IT careers, ensuring that under-represented groups have equitable access;
  • Upskilling the current workforce and adult career changers;
  • Partnering with groups like Hello West Michigan to create IT specific recruitment campaigns to fill in-demand occupations;
  • Branding West Michigan as an IT hub and promoting existing organizations focused on IT talent expansion in the region; and
  • Raising funds to support WMTT initiatives, including grants and scholarships.

Mike Jandernoa, featured speaker at the launch event, addressed over 60 attendees from diverse fields; IT professionals, local employers, education providers and community organizations were all represented. He emphasized West Michigan’s collaborative spirit and how that spirit has helped put our region on the map. Jandernoa urged attendees to use WMTT as a medium for collaboration and instilled a sense of urgency to act. He encouraged everyone to begin now so they would not find themselves back in the same place, having the same conversation five years from now.

“SalesPad employs over 100 talented technology professionals and we believe it’s important to collaborate with other employers in our community to support a strong tech talent pool here in West Michigan,” said Matt Williams, SalesPad President. “Working hand-in-hand with employers, educators and workforce groups, we can continue to grow future talent, develop current talent and recruit people to make West Michigan an attractive and inclusive community for tech talent. We encourage anyone who has a passion for growing West Michigan’s tech industry to get involved.”

Additional WMTT partners include the Midwest Tech Project, Bizstream Academy, Bitcamp and Talent 2025. There are several opportunities to get involved and attend upcoming workgroups and events. Learn about upcoming opportunities at westmichigantechtalent.com/new-events/.

“We have experienced the tech talent gap firsthand and we’re excited to have West Michigan Tech Talent as a resource to build our network and strengthen our local tech talent pool,” said Jane Geitzen, Director of Information Services at Spectrum Health. “Employers across West Michigan and around the country are looking for top tech employees, and West Michigan Tech Talent will help companies in our community attract and retain talent in West Michigan.”

Grand Rapids Business Journal: West Michigan Works! launches tech talent program
MiBiz: Employers, educators unite to tackle persistent shortage of tech talent