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Survey: Businesses having trouble hiring for high-tech positions

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Businesses in New Jersey's technology industry are increasingly looking to hire employees with experience in developing network infrastructure and mobile capabilities, but lack the resources to find or train people in those technical skills, according to an industry employment survey today released by the New Jersey Technology Council, Withum, Smith & Brown P.C. and Giordano, Halleran & Ciesla P.C.

According to the survey, the top three universities from which New Jersey-based technology companies recruit for entry-level positions are Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology — though nearly half the 138 businesses surveyed do not recruit out of college, or offer entry-level positions and prefer to find candidates with previous technical experience.

"Colleges say, 'We have the talent,' but the problem is many employers have a very narrow window of what that talent needs to be," said James C. Bourke, a partner in Withum, Smith & Brown's technology practice, in Red Bank. "Employers are looking to pull individuals very specific to job duties. Yes, the colleges have a pipeline, but firms are looking elsewhere."

While 67 percent of the executives surveyed are looking to grow their technical staff, nearly 20 percent of respondents said they have been unable to find qualified employees, and another 14 percent do not have the funding to offer compensation packages at the level needed to hire employees with the IT experience they desire most.

As a result, about 60 percent of the firms surveyed indicated they outsource at least one job function to another state or country.

While federal and state governments offer employment credits and incentives — which the NJTC promotes for job growth, as the leader of the state's Technology and Entrepreneurship Talent Network — nearly 75 percent of the companies surveyed do not take advantage of the programs, noting they were not aware such opportunities existed.

NJTC President and CEO Maxine Ballen said the network is “continually broadcasting opportunities” for employment incentives from the state Economic Development Authority and Business Action Center, as well as connecting businesses to the state’s work force, but constant shifts in the incentives and the skills companies require hinders the group’s efforts.

“There’s rapidity in the needs companies have,” Ballen said. “You try to make connections and tell companies about incentive programs, but then the programs change … and people are always changing companies. We’re doing everything we can to communicate what we do, but with all of the change, there’s always a disconnect.”

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