More tech professionals are moving to Wisconsin as remote work becomes a permanent part of our society, making the need to live in some of the country’s bigger tech hubs unnecessary.
A new report from the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) shows that from May 2021 to April 2022, Wisconsin saw a 6.6% increase its total number of tech workers. Since the start of the pandemic, remote tech job postings are up 421%, compared to 195% for non-tech job postings.Kathy Henrich, CEO of the MKE Tech Hub Coalition, said while this news is good for the region, there are some risks to this new trend of work for employers.
“East and West Coast companies are posting jobs here in this part of the country and that puts them at risk because there’s a salary gap, or there historically has been due to cost of living, so what you’re seeing is a risk that employees might move and leave, and they might not feel as connected to their employer as they previously did,” Henrich said.
[caption id="attachment_496042" align="alignleft" width="300"] Kathy Henrich[/caption]
Although the state saw this 6.6% boost in tech talent, Wisconsin still needs more workers to fill the total number of open positions. A report from TechNet released earlier this year estimated that hirings in the state must grow by 16.7% to maintain current tech employment levels.
Henrich said there are several strategies the state and employers can take to continue attracting tech workers. She suggested employers invest in a multi-pronged approach that could include hiring college-aged employees, upskilling existing workers and reskilling talent in other career fields. State officials could also assist with continued investment in talent attraction and development. At the national level, Henrich said government officials should also consider expanding access H1B visas.
“Having immigration policy that allows you to bring in high-skilled workers is a part of the potential solution here. Others are winning in this space, specifically Toronto and Canada, because they have been able to streamline their H1B visa process,” Henrich said.
She emphasized the fact that any international workers should be used in conjunction with efforts to attract and train talent locally, not in place of those efforts.
Despite Wisconsin being ranked 9th out of 50 regions in the net creation of tech businesses within the last year, the TECNA report shows from December 2019 to December 2021, there was only a 0.9% increase in tech jobs in the state. However, Wisconsin has been able to recover to its pre-pandemic number of tech jobs, which is not the case for states like New York, Hawaii and North Dakota.
Tennessee and Idaho saw the largest percent gain in tech jobs, with an 8% and 7.3% increase respectively.
“Where we’re winning is this importing of tech talent to the region. We actually were in the top 50 percent of states and top 50 percent of geographies that imported tech talent. We’re kind of a net winner in that space. Where we still have work to go is in creating more tech jobs,” Henrich said.