A new employer survey reveals a strong and fast-growing ecosystem for typically high-paying jobs in IT and software-related fields in the Blacksburg-Roanoke region, with more than 1,250 new jobs being created in the next 18 months.
The jobs are being created by more than 40 companies that range in size from fewer than 10 employees to some of our largest regional employers, according to Greg Feldmann, interim executive director and CEO of the Valley’s Innovation Council (VIC).
VIC conducted the survey to try to establish a baseline for the numbers of IT/software jobs in the region, as well as the demand outlook for such high-wage jobs. “We wanted hard numbers to better understand the near-term outlook in this sector, so that we can work with regional employers, support organizations, and communities to devise strategies to help develop and recruit this talent,” said Doug Juanarena co-chair of VIC.
“We’ve been hearing for some time now that regional employers have a growing, unmet need for IT and software talent,” Juanarena said. “For example, the Advance Auto headquarters move to Raleigh, N.C., for better access to talent should serve as a wakeup call for the region on this issue. Almost no business today can grow and scale without IT and software development talent.”
The growth numbers are likely conservative, Feldmann said. “We had a response rate of 20%, which does not reflect all of the opportunities being created in our region.” In addition to job growth, survey results indicate demand for mid- to senior-level talent and greater demand for IT/software jobs among New River Valley employers.
The survey was designed by VIC with input from regional employers. It was distributed to 315 employers through Onward NRV, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, VIC, and the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
VIC is continuing to analyze the data and will provide a full report by year end, with information on regional salaries, recruitment time and costs. Consolidated results will be shared with each participating employer.
The survey results will help employers understand the regional ecosystem and better understand the local and national competitive environments, according to Feldmann. “Prospective employees living out of the area should find the strong demand outlook attractive.
Many recruits are concerned about whether there is sufficient depth and breadth of employment opportunities and employers when relocating to a new area,” Feldmann said. “Knowing that there is an abundance of opportunity lowers the risk of having to completely relocate again in the future.
“We hear from employers that thousands of dollars are being spent on IT and software personnel recruitment efforts that are achieving mixed results, “Feldmann said. “There may be an opportunity to use the survey data to better target talent rich areas like Austin, San Francisco, Boston and Raleigh,” he said.
“We must be proactive in our outreach to show people living outside our region that there is an excellent depth of IT and software development professional opportunities in our region, which offers unparalleled beauty, affordability and cultural amenities,” Feldmann said. “VIC will now turn its attention to working with stakeholders on devising strategies to identify and attract the needed talent.”