Overcoming the IT Talent Shortage in Montana


Fortunately, Montana is currently ranked 12th in the nation’s unemployment ratings. The flip side to this low unemployment rating is a shortage of skilled and qualified job candidates.

While the unemployment rate is a key indicator in determining the health of the nation and a state’s economy, it is also considered a lagging indicator as it does not capture the total number of job seekers. The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed, but actively seeking employment and willing to work. This number does not include those who have given up the job search, are retired, or are underemployed.

The more important indicator is the underemployed (those working part-time or at a job below their education, experience, and skill level). If you combine the percentage of adults in the workforce who are unemployed with the percentage of those working who are seeking full-time employment but are not working at capacity, these rates exceed the unemployed totals put forth by the Bureau Labor Standards.

What does this mean for us in Montana?

The Center for the Rocky Mountain West has projected that Montana jobs for Computer Specialists will increase by 18.2% within the next 5-10 years with IT specialties even higher: Software Engineers at 32.2%, and Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts at 32%.

Combine low unemployment, underemployment, and a shrinking workforce with a high-growth industry and a shortage of skilled IT talent, and you have a situation in Montana where traditional means of hiring via newspaper or network connections, does not produce the desired results.

So what can be done?

As Specialists that focus on employment solutions in the IT industry, Arrow Solutions Group has many options that can help Montana employers fill their gaps in their IT workforce. These staffing options include:

  • Contract, supplemental staffing or staff augmentation,
  • Contract-to-hire or temp-to-hire.

I need it done now!

If your business is in a position where you need help to finish a project immediately, or recognize you lack the right skill set to complete a project, the pressure is on to meet deadlines and satisfy customer’s demands. In this situation the long process of hiring a new employee and getting them up to speed can complicate problems, rather than solve them. This situation has a solution that larger companies, such as Apple, Microsoft and others, have used for years as their “secret sauce” for completing projects on time: contract IT resourcessupplemental staffing and contract employees provide specialized, flexible and beneficial resources to an organization at the time they’re needed.

It may surprise you to know that Montana has a large number of IT professionals, who love the varied and challenging pace of moving from one project to the next. They have experience working with Fortune 500 companies and can bring their knowledge and subject matter expertise to benefit your company. Also known as supplemental staffing or staff augmentation, contract assignments are used to help with IT projects, both large and small, whether it’s for three months or three years, as the contractors are hired for a specified amount of time or until project completion. An example may be a conversion from current software to new software or possibly an upgrade to existing software. Adding resources in this manner will get the project rolled out, software implemented, and data transferred in an efficient and cost-effective way.

First-hand experience as a contract-to-hire

Contract-to-hire allows the company to make sure a candidate has the necessary skills and culture fit before employing them directly. Employee turnover is a huge expense and by using this option, the staffing company bares the majority of the cost.

Contract-to-hire also allows the candidate to personally experience the company in a working environment.

As a college graduate in a new town where I was unfamiliar with the local labor market, I was assigned as a Contract-to-hire (temp-to-hire). The contract assignment was for three months (customary timeframe). This gave the company the chance to see if I fit their business needs and culture. It was also beneficial to me as it provided the opportunity to see if the organization was really where I wanted to be – knowledge that can only be gleaned by experiencing the environment first-hand. After the allotted timeframe, the company offered me full-time employment which evolved to a career of 12+ years with the business. By using the Contract-to-hire option, the company was able to evaluate “the fit” and move forward with confidence in their hiring decision.

Going forward

The next time you’re in need of IT professionals holding specialized skill sets and you’d like the opportunity to assess an employee prior to making an offer or you have a project for a contract employee, let us assist you in overcoming the IT talent shortage. We believe the opportunity to see if the fit is right is essential to selecting the best talent for your business.

At Arrow Solutions Group, we guarantee quality human connections every time.