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Microsoft NSI Calls for National Collaboration To Bridge Skills Gap

When Tony DiBenedetto, CEO of Tribridge, a Microsoft National System Integrator (NSI), threw out the challenge in an Inc.com article earlier this year, he wasn't sure what kind of response he would get. Apparently, he hit a nerve.

In the article, DiBenedetto challenged business, government and educational groups to work together to take on the skills gap -- to develop qualified candidates for tech jobs. After adding 200 people to Tribridge in 2013 and expecting similar expansion this year, DiBenedetto said it's not business growth that worries him. 

"What's keeping me up at night is wondering where my future team members will come from and how I'm going to scale the business to meet market demand. Like many entrepreneurs, I'm facing a very real shortage of highly skilled talent," he wrote in the article.

DiBenedetto goes on to describe the efforts of economic development groups to collaborate with education institutions, as well as the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives sponsored by companies like Microsoft, AT&T and IBM. While these are valid efforts, DiBenedetto suggested that a more holistic approach to pool resources is needed to accelerate the solution. He advocates a three-fold approach -- government-funded training, realignment of training with current skill requirements in educational institutions, and a commitment from private companies to hire.

A Shared Challenge
As soon as the article was posted at the end of January, responses from other companies facing the same issue started pouring in. DiBenedetto has received over 250 e-mails, plus LinkedIn e-mails from concerned business people, educators and government officials ready to get on board.

"The outpouring of interest and support for this issue has been overwhelming. I've heard from people across the country who are experiencing similar hiring challenges, which underscores the importance of tackling the skills gap issue," DiBenedetto said. "We are currently working on a business plan that will hopefully gain the needed traction from government funding sources."

A Proactive Approach
Tribridge has a history of dealing with the skills gap proactively. As other partners have found, setting up a recruitment and training program to prepare consultants is often the only way to support a growing services practice. The Tribridge Academy is an educational program that provides college students and recent graduates with classroom and on-the-job training to prepare them for a consulting career. 

Through these programs, college grads with non-technical degrees but good people skills are taught the art of consulting and the supporting technologies. Participants in these partner-run training programs praise both the training and the opportunity to participate in a field they weren't even aware existed.

Join the Effort
As service-based businesses, every partner depends on the contributions of skilled employees to survive and grow. To continue to build the value of the partner channel, we need to prepare and hire the next generation. If you would like to help solve the skills gap challenge, send an e-mail to DiBenedetto.

How are you bridging the skills gap? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on March 26, 2014 at 12:37 PM


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