Chris Goyette | Scroll Illustration (Chris Goyette, Scroll Illustration)

Idaho manages tech sector surplus

Idaho has the second-fastest-growing tech sector in the nation but has 2,300 unfilled positions at the tech companies, according to CompTIA’s 2016 Cyberstates report.

Lee Barney, a faculty member in the computer information technology department, said BYU-Idaho students have several different options to help prepare them to go into technical fields: computer information technology and computer science degrees and a web development minor.

Employment in these fields is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations by adding 286,600 new jobs over the 2008-2018 decade, according to the official BYU-I website.

“Students that do well come out of the school very well prepared to go directly into those jobs,” Barney said.

The tech sector of Idaho grew 6.3 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to CompTIA’s 2016 Cyberstates report.

The state saw an increase of 1,925 technology jobs in 2015 to a total of 32,600, according to the report.

Because Idaho does not have enough students who graduate in technology fields to fill those jobs, the state relies heavily on recruiting talent from others areas of the country, according to the report.

Barney said the Research and Business Development Center on campus spoke with companies in Boise, and those companies were not aware that BYU-I was preparing students for tech jobs.

“Between the computer science department and the CIT department, we graduate more students in this area than the other three universities in Idaho combined, so they’re missing out on a lot of potential employees,” he said.

Tyler Badger, a sophomore studying computer information technology, said he is surprised Idaho has so many opportunities that need to be outsourced.

“It honestly makes me pretty optimistic to know that there is so much job growth here,” Badger said.

Barney said Idaho companies do not offer competitive wages. He said this is why Idaho struggles to fill these tech jobs because students who choose to stay in Idaho also choose to be paid lower wages.

Barney said one graduate chose to have lower wages so he could stay in Idaho. He said the graduate has now moved onto a company outside the state and is making three times as much money since changing companies.

Cody Allred, a senior studying computer information technology, said he would like to work in his native northern Idaho in the future if he could find a job with pay and benefits comparable to out-of-state jobs.

Some of Idaho’s neighbors, including Washington, California and Utah, are competition for jobs with better wages, according to the report.

“Our students compete on a national level,” Barney said. “Most of our students leave Idaho. Those who choose to stay also choose less opportunity.”

He said that students go all over the country, but especially to Texas, California, Boston and Washington D.C.

Allred said he expects the technology industry to continue to grow.

“Technology is the future,” Allred said. “There will always be some new technology and a demand for workers who know how to use the new technology.”

Copyright 2015 BYU-I Scroll