Seeing the big picture: Why companies should invest in the STEM workforce

It's expected that today's companies care — whether that's about social causes, customers or employees, it's a given. However, more than just a nice sentiment, it's absolutely crucial that companies care about the skilled STEM workforce.

Grand Circus at SalesPad; Why companies should invest in the STEM workforce

Think about this:

SalesPad's president Matt Williams says he's seen a tightening in the talent pool in recent years and knows that, as a company, we need to help create the future workforce.

That's why we recently partnered with two local organizations, Grand Circus Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), to offer an "Intro to Coding" workshop — an opportunity for adults who may be looking for a career in STEM fields.

“We’ve connected with many of our local universities for years to hire great talent, but even that isn’t enough to keep pace with our current customers' technology demands," Matt says.

These coding workshops are just another way to help fill the talent pipeline.

Grand Circus, a tech education organization which operates in Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan, also offers coding "bootcamps" and other educational opportunities with the aim of equipping students with the skills necessary for obtaining an entry-level technical position (usually software development, but also testing or project management).

Some Grand Circus students may hold four-year degrees and are looking to enter the STEM workforce. Some come from more nontraditional educational backgrounds, and benefit from both technical and soft skills training during bootcamps.

SalesPad recently hired a graduate from Grand Circus' program as a developer, and according to Grand Circus' assistant campus director Kelsey Perdue, similar future hires can strategically address the tech talent shortage in West Michigan.

"Our students are talented and have a lot to offer. We need more companies who will be open to take folks from nontraditional backgrounds," Kelsey said.

To Kelsey, it's simple — an increasing demand for a tech workforce can be met with local people who are resourceful and passionate about starting a career in tech.

Invest for better candidates, now and tomorrow

For businesses, investing in the STEM workforce can produce both short-term and long-term results — results that are good for business.

In the immediate future, companies need to fill positions now. By supporting opportunities for people to up-skill and gain basic STEM skills, there will be a larger pool of qualified candidates. Grand Circus has only been around for a few years, and companies like SalesPad are already seeing the return of gaining qualified candidates and hires.

For the long-term future, investing in STEM education at all levels (elementary and high school STEM programs, college-planning for STEM careers and programs for adults) will strengthen the STEM industry in the U.S. — allowing local companies to thrive at both a national and international level.

Invest for better products

Additionally, opening up STEM career opportunities to a larger and more diverse population is also good for business and product development.

Grand Circus sees a lot of career-changers who may have professional experience ranging from two to 20 years. For companies, that unique experience can add value to developing products and solutions.

If companies want to create great products, Kelsey says, then diversity should be valued in the workplace.

"To have someone who has the technical skills, knows how to conduct themselves in the workplace and has additional valuable experiences to offer — it's a great option."

Whether partnering with other organizations to offer training for the future tech workforce or hiring nontraditional students, there is ample opportunity for companies to make real investments in the STEM workforce — investments that are sure to pay off in a big way.

What are some ways you're helping build talent in your industry? Has your company taken steps to invest in its future workforce? Let us know in the comments. 

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