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IBM, other tech firms search high and low for native Louisianan techies

Kate Archer Kent

A handful of companies that are hiring hundreds of tech workers were handpicked to participate in a hiring event Wednesday at the Shreveport Convention Center.

Officials with Louisiana Economic Development’s workforce development program called FastStart put on a digital jobs interview event for companies like IBM, CGI and CenturyLink.

North Louisiana Economic Partnership senior vice president Angie White works with companies along the Interstate 20 corridor on developing their high-tech workforce. She says this event was a quiet one because there just aren’t many Louisianans with experience in the tech sector.

“I think out-of-state recruitment events are going to be the most exciting. It’s a little bit challenging doing these in the state right now because this is just not an industry that’s been strong here. We may not see as much foot traffic as we’d see in Atlanta, Dallas or Houston,” White said.

IBM’s new services center in Baton Rouge is recruiting 800 tech workers with resumes that list experience in software and business applications like SAP and Oracle. David Jackson is the recruiting program manager for IBM’s Inbound Delivery Center. He says over the past year IBM has hired about 200 people to work out of Baton Rouge. Jackson aims to process as many resumes as he can.

“We’ve got a list of the folks that pre-registered, and we’ve reviewed the resumes. We’re going try to interview as many of them as we can to determine whether we’re going to move them forward in the process,” Jackson said.

LED FastStart has already put on events like this one in Atlanta; Orlando, Florida; and Jackson, Mississippi. IBM’s Jackson says he’ll be recruiting nationwide and looking out for native Louisianans who might want to move home to be on the ground floor of the state’s growing tech industry.

“We are working really hard to reach out and find folks that have gone to school here, grown up here, and had to go elsewhere to find technology jobs to bring them back, to help the overall economy and tax base,” Jackson said.

A pre-submitted online resume was required for job seekers to secure an interview at the event.

White finds that there is a lot of competition for tech workers in the Bayou State and companies have to protect what they have.

“If a company is proud of what they’re doing and building a good corporate culture then I think that will protect them from having their employees poached,” White said.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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