Austin companies look to fill demand for IT workers with ACC grads

IT companies look to fill jobs with ACC grads (KXAN photo)
IT companies look to fill jobs with ACC grads (KXAN photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As more tech jobs come to Austin, there is a growing demand for workers, especially in the Information Technology field.

Austin Community College and the nonprofit Capital IDEA are now partnering with employers to help connect underemployed people in Austin with positions the tech sector needs to fill. Through expanding on work thev’re already begun in this area, ACC is hoping to bring students pursuing careers in IT educational assistance, internships, and connections to the industry. They say many people misjudge the IT world and don’t understand how exciting of a career it could be.

Mark Fletcher played video games competitively in the 1990s when he got an offer to work in Information Technology with a gaming company. Now he hires IT employees for Austin video game development studio, Certain Affinity. The studio is one of the tech companies partnering with ACC to bring more graduates into the IT field.

Fletcher, director of technical operations at Certain Affinity, says, “I was going to school to be an accountant and my life went whoosh just — OK a sudden turn.”

“Some people have this misconception that it is hide in a dark room and be behind the computer screen kind of thing, but honestly you’re not going to go very far that way, it is a customer service oriented field.”

Mojdeh Gharbi, VP of Marketing and Operations and co-owner of Certain Affinity, says, “We just can’t get enough skilled talent, and I think IT is also an area of concern as well.”

Certain Affinity has around 125 employees and wants to double in size in the next two years. In a business centered around technology, Gharbi said having quality IT employees is essential. She added that she would love to hire people with ACC Associates degrees for those positions. “Frankly without them there wouldn’t be any video games or development.”

Her company hired two interns from ACC last year, one was the first female intern ever in her IT department. Now she is working with ACC to recruit students and working with other employers to raise awareness for this program at ACC.

“The team was a little bit skeptical, they weren’t sure what to expect because they hadn’t worked with ACC before,” Gharbi said. “I think they were really blown away by the caliber of candidates we were getting in [from ACC].”

Gharbi explained that IT encompasses a wide variety of jobs, within her company it can mean: “anything from supporting developers with equipment, to software, to doing test labs, and setting up next play test labs that are happening.”

She said it’s an added perk that her office is only a 10 minute walk from the Highland campus.

Data cited on ACC’s website notes that more than 30,000 people work in IT in Central Texas. By 2021 they expect the number of local jobs to grow by about 8 percent.

That means the Austin-area is expected to get more than 2,200 new IT jobs in the next four years.

For more information on this program at ACC or careers in IT, look here.

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