Technical help wanted
This article originally appeared in the Long Island Business News, 7/31/17 edition.
Computer programmers and computer engineers are in demand on Long Island, where employers are struggling to find individuals with the right skill set to fill open positions.
Christos Morris, CEO of the eVero Corp., a Melville provider of electronic medical record solutions, explained that recent graduates with degrees in computer programming are often attracted by the glamour of working at companies in the city, like Google, making it difficult for eVero and other Long Island employers to attract skilled programmers and other IT professionals. Employers like eVero are “always looking for the really good developers who can be the game changer,” Morris said.
Joseph Davis, director of IT consulting services and staffing at Lloyd Staffing in Melville, adds there are IT jobs out there, and that job hunters with marketable skills have the ability to move up through the company and then move on to bigger things.
IT professionals have a lot of options and say in where they are going, according to Paul Trapani, president of Plainview-based trade organization Long Island Software & Technology Network. Trapani works with CEOs across Long Island and finds that they have “a challenge finding enough [IT] people on Long Island to do all the work.”
Part of the reason it is difficult to find employees with the right skill set is that technology is constantly changing, so computer engineers and programmers must continually update their skills, according to Larry Bianculli, managing director of enterprise at CCSI, a Bohemia-based provider of technology solutions.
The ideal programmer is no longer the stereotypical “basement guy” – someone who doesn’t talk to anyone and just does his work and goes home. Davis explains that companies are seeking engineers and programmers who are skilled in their work on computers, but are also skilled communicators. Employers are now asking their engineers into various business meetings, and these professionals are often expected to have a hunger for business growth.
When interviewing for a position, “it is critical that the candidate has researched the company and its culture,” Davis said, adding that if a job applicant isn’t as good as other programmers, but he shows good marketing and communication skills, the company will still take him on and train him.
It’s also very important for a computer engineer or programmer to develop specific skills.
“The jack of all trades was always so well thought of in the past, but coming in with a specialty or niche is what is going to excite future employers,” Davis said.
All the employers interviewed for this article said that while picking a niche, the individual should simply follow her passion. If engineers or programmers don’t have a passion for their work, it will be evident in what they produce.
Having a passion for the work, knowing multiple computer languages and having side projects to their name will make computer engineers more marketable. Morris and Davis believe that while schooling is nice, side projects like websites and apps are what makes an applicant stand out. Trapani said he seeks out people who show “that they are not just in it to go to school but do things as hobbies and side projects” – which demonstrates that the applicant is passionate about the work and is able to take what he has learned and apply it.
Some jobs in the IT field have become overly saturated, employers say. Davis explained that telecommunications, networking, routing and switching are dead areas, while coding, development and statistics are the hot areas. However, the areas that current students should be focusing on are cloud, data, hosting and security services because those are the areas of IT that have the best future.
IT professionals also spoke about the importance of starting to learn how to code at an early age. Since the field is competitive right now, Davis believes “if you could start a specialization early on in your life you will be so far ahead of the curve.” Adam Filios, a professor at Farmingdale State College, said coding should be a part of the high school curriculum, but he feels the place that computer engineering students fall flat is with their math skills. He added that strong math skills directly transfer to coding because math skills teach students how to think logically. Areas of math that he feels are important are pre-calculus, physics, algebra and trigonometry.
Although technology is constantly changing, and the job market is competitive, Shital Patel of the Department of Labor says IT jobs “have a very favorable employment prospect. Overall, the labor market is quite tight right now and some companies have trouble filling highly skilled openings,” making it easy for people with experience in multiple areas of IT to receive many job offers.