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Posted: 4:25 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013
By Jim Bradley
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
With an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent, it is clear that people living in Mecklenburg County need jobs. Tuesday, Channel 9 discovered the IT industry in Charlotte scouring our workforce to hire people, but they are having trouble finding enough qualified candidates. On a cloudy and cold Charlotte day, the hottest jobs in town may be in IT, information technology. The trouble is there are more jobs than qualified candidates – ask Bob Morgan who sells the city every day at the Chamber of Commerce. "The appetite is voracious; we do not have enough IT workers today to fill the need that exists," said Morgan. Software Company Avid-Xchange is part of the boom. Business is so good that CEO Mike Praeger wants to hire 80 more workers this year to add to the 170 he already has, but finding them in Charlotte is tough. "Being in the software business our number one limiting factor is access to the right skill sets of people," said Praeger. Some of them are being trained right now at UNC Charlotte at the College of Computing and Informatics, a lab that turns data into visual displays. It is part of an IT program that has seen a 60 percent growth in students in the last four years. "That is not just happening, it is a conscious effort. We foresee the need from industry and prepare for it," said Yi Deng the Dean of the College of Computing and Informatics. But not even an increase in UNCC graduates is enough to fill the openings in Charlotte's IT industry, not to mention huge IT workforces in banking, energy and health care. At the chamber, Morgan said Charlotte needs to find a way to bridge the gap. "Companies go where the talent is, and at some point if the talent is not here they will go somewhere else that they can find it," said Morgan. At Avid-Xchange, Mike Praeger knows the stakes. He is already set to expand his company into additional office space, but would love to see more qualified local candidates for the jobs he is adding. "If there were more of them, it would enable us to grow faster," said Praeger. And grow Charlotte, too.
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