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Higher education’s IT staff problem—and what to do about it

October 29, 2015 | By Dan Cagle

young casual female writing on laptop in coffee shop

The atmosphere in higher education IT can only be described as turbulent. As higher education IT leaders pivot from technical to business problems—and develop new IT frameworks—they need the right staff to keep up with the significant changes. EDUCAUSE, the nonprofit focused on higher education IT, says hiring, retaining and, critically, retraining staff is the No. 1 issue facing institutions.

Effectively competing for IT staff

In an intensely competitive market for IT professionals, institutions need to differentiate themselves from the dozens of other higher education institutions hiring for the same position.

Especially when hiring on a project or contract basis, it’s essential to consider what value beyond salary will attract top talent for a shorter-term engagement. TEKsystems research shows that the opportunity to learn new skill sets is the No. 1 reason IT professionals are attracted to contract work. Especially relevant for higher learning, the ability to make an impact ranked No. 5 on the list of eight motivators. A shared purpose that is communicated clearly and often can be a very effective tool for retention.

Creating an overarching employee value proposition (EVP) that articulates the non-monetary aspects of a role—such as purpose, impact to the organization or students, and ability to learn new skills—is critical for recruiting the best people as well as ensuring job satisfaction down the road. Only one-third of IT leaders across all industries report their organization has a clear EVP, but IT professionals at organizations with clear EVPs are 65 percent more satisfied with career opportunities and 41 percent more satisfied with compensation.

Meet TEKsystems’ higher education segment at EDUCAUSE 2015

Being able to quickly scale up skilled teams is a competitive advantage for institutions, but can be daunting to manage alone.

TEKsystems’ higher education segment, part of TEKsystems Government Services, will attend the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference for higher education IT to discuss how to attract and retain IT talent. TEKsystems’ higher education segment supports staffing and managed services for education initiatives that aim to improve student outcomes, enhance and improve online learning, be more flexible and responsive to business needs, and meet faculty and student demands for modern technology. The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference will take place Oct. 27–30 in Indianapolis.

Going to the EDUCAUSE conference? We’ll be exhibiting at booth No. 628! Stop by to chat with us about our suite of services and how we have helped more than 115 higher education clients develop strategies to address the No. 1 IT issue facing higher education: attracting and retaining IT talent.

Want to learn more about how to retain IT professionals? Stay tuned for our new retention and engagement research, which will be released at the end of October.

Dan Cagle is the director of TEKsystems’ higher education segment, part of TEKsystems Government Services. Connect with Dan online through LinkedIn.

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