Nov 6, 2021 - News
NWA needs more tech people
Illustration of keyboard letters spelling "Helped Wanted"
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Northwest Arkansas will likely need to fill about 7,500 computer-related jobs — everything from data scientists to computer systems analysts to web developers — in the next 10 years, according to data provided by the Northwest Arkansas Council.

Why it matters: Almost every industry needs a range of people in tech, and community leaders want to provide a pipeline of talent from here in NWA, Mike Harvey, the council’s chief operating officer, and Joe Rollins, who specializes in workforce development for the council, tell Axios.

State of play: As of late October, the second-most job openings in NWA were for software developers.

  • And computer science positions had the most openings by programs, followed by business, then engineering with information technology at No. 7.

What's happening: The Northwest Arkansas Council is working with educational institutions to help develop training programs.

  • Many entry-level tech positions can be filled by people with skills in areas such as coding who do not necessarily need college degrees, but some mid-level and upper-level positions may need bachelor’s or even graduate degrees.
  • That's why filling the demand means working with all levels — high schools, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Northwest Technical Institute, U of A, etc.

What they're saying: Rollins says the council has a partnership with the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences to develop information technology apprenticeships for front-end and back-end web developers, full-stack developers, data analytics, cybersecurity and robotic process automation.

  • "I think the training is capable. We can build it. Right now there’s just a lot of questions that we still have to ask about what’s needed," Rollins says.

Yes, but: Even though NWA is rapidly working to offer more training opportunities across the board, companies still have to recruit a workforce from outside the area to keep up with the demand.

  • That is part of the Northwest Arkansas Council's motivation for actively trying to persuade and incentivize people from larger cities to move here, Harvey says.

Go deeper: Check out careersnwa.com to see job opportunities.

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