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Accenture Wants to Create 400 Tech Jobs in Minneapolis, But Can it Overcome Industry's Talent Supply Shortage?
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Accenture Wants to Create 400 Tech Jobs in Minneapolis, But Can it Overcome Industry's Talent Supply Shortage?

The Fortune 500 tech services and consulting company recently announced a plan to add 400 "highly skilled technology jobs" in Minneapolis by the end of 2020.

Accenture PLC, a Fortune 500 tech services and consulting company based in Dublin, recently announced big plans for Minneapolis’ technological community — plans that may even be too big for Minneapolis’ current tech workforce.
 
According to a February 2 release, Accenture plans to add “400 highly skilled technology jobs in Minneapolis by the end of 2020.” This announcement comes in the wake of Accenture’s larger, nationwide plan — unveiled in February 2017 — to add 15,000 new jobs, $1.4 billion in training and 10 new innovation hubs across the country by the end of 2020.
 
Accenture currently employs over 1,600 people in Minneapolis, according to last Friday’s release, meaning the 400 additional positions would increase the company’s Minneapolis workforce by 25 percent. Although this innovative plan may seem beneficial for both parties — Accenture and the Minneapolis workforce — some think Accenture may have outkicked its coverage.
 
“The issue is rarely about a workforce shortage (not enough people), but usually a specific skills shortage (not enough people with the required skills),” said Tim Barrett, director of STEM Education & Workforce Development for the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA).
 
According to a 2017 report provided by the MHTA, even in the entry-level jobs across the seven-county metro area, both traditional and non-traditional training providers struggle to graduate enough people to fill the demand for technological-related jobs. The “highly skilled technology jobs” are available in the Minneapolis job market, Barrett says, but the workforce may not.
 
For example, according to the 2017 report, 4,718 jobs were available in the “Computer User Support Specialist” field during the second quarter of last year — a 9 percent increase from Q2 2016. Despite this number, only 93 students graduated from regional certificate and two-year programs with related experience.
 
Despite the potential lack in supply, Accenture has not been deterred. The company plans to hire at all levels to fill these new 400 positions, said Christy Sovereign, Accenture’s managing director of its Minneapolis office. This includes both recent graduates and seasoned experts already working in the marketplace.
 
“We’re hiring in new and emerging skill areas like robotics process automation, blockchain, and liquid methodologies, and we do expect to find that in the Minneapolis area,” Sovereign told Twin Cities Business. “For recent grads, we’re actively recruiting, with the University of Minnesota being a primary source, and we’re specifically looking for grads with STEM and business degrees.
 
Despite the previous data, MHTA’s Barrett agreed that Twin Cities educators are capable of providing the necessary training to fill the area’s IT jobs, but they’ll need more investment by the state and community in general. With the proper funding, Barrett said, the University of Minnesota and other Minnesota state colleges and universities would be able to expand their facilities, hire more instructors, and thus graduate more students.
 
If the universities, state schools, and non-traditional programs couldn’t find enough funding to graduate the proper amount of students for these job openings, Barrett says the only alternative is to find those skilled workers in other areas of the country and bring them to Minneapolis. The problem is, though, “those cities are working just as much as we are to hold on to those workers.”
 
According to Sovereign, however, Accenture won’t need this alternative. Given the specific skills Accenture is targeting with these 400 proposed openings, the company plans to look no further than the Mighty Mississippi.
 
“Minneapolis is an innovation-led city,” said Sovereign. “It recently ranked fifth for STEM careers and ninth for corporate innovation. It’s a vibrant and growing tech community, and we do expect that we’ll source the talent that we need from within the Twin Cities area.”
 
On a broader scale, Accenture’s plan to add 400 tech jobs may not actually be too out of the ordinary. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) projects that, by 2024, Minneapolis will have 19,050 job openings in computer and mathematical operations, and 10,180 in architecture and engineering occupations — that’s 29,230 openings in the broader field of information technology by 2024.
 
The current market, however, is not quite as expansive. According to a report from Talent Neuron, there are currently 7,036 IT job openings in the Twin Cities area. Considering Accenture in its release said it was looking for those with skills in “digital, cloud and security services,” the more relevant statistic may be the current 2,627 openings in the Twin Cities that fall under the categories of “cyber,” “digital,” and “cloud.”
 
“I’m not sure how much variability there is around DEED’s estimate, but given the large number of projected openings by 2024, 400 (or 1.4 percent) seems realistic,” said John Dukich, MHTA’s director of public policy and research. “Adding another 400 to the current labor market might be a bit more challenging. Adding another 400 to the current 2,627 IT job openings in Minneapolis-St. Paul is 15.2 percent of the market.”
 
Accenture employs more than 50,000 people in 42 cities across the United States, while its services are utilized by more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.