Is finding tech workers and tech services a challenge in the Wilmington area?
One new arrival in the business community is staking its success on the premise that the local market is underserved.
Pennsylvania-based PS Solutions has opened an expansion office here and is promoting its capabilities in programming, software development and contract IT services.
Ask a few local companies about how well their technology needs are being met, and there is evidence that PS Solutions might be right.
Finding experienced technology workers has always been a challenge in Wilmington, said Jeff King, vice president of research and development for SpecialtySoft, a provider of software to specialty retail industries nationwide.
King added that the growth of tech-heavy companies such as Live Oak, nCino and CastleBranch means that often these larger companies grab up available local talent.
“We’ve had so many problems getting employees that we’ve gone to contractors,” King said. “We have a couple of contractors here. They’re in Wilmington because they want to live here.”
Most of SpecialtySoft’s contractors, however, live elsewhere and work remotely.
That’s also the case with GigSalad, an online marketplace for booking talent that is based in Wilmington but serves clients across the U.S. and Canada.
“We’ve given up on the idea that we can find qualified people located in Wilmington,” said Steve Tetrault, the company’s co-founder. “We just hired two senior developers for Gig- Salad: one’s in Missouri, and one’s in Michigan. There was only one person in Wilmington who responded to our ads, and the Wilmington person was not all that qualified.”
Unlike SpecialtySoft, GigSalad’s approach does not include contractors.
“Using a contractor is not what we want. We need people who are focused on our product. We continue hiring and growing, and we’ve been really busy,” Tetrault said. “Our challenge is that [our niche] is becoming more of a crowded space, so we require total saturation [of employees in the company’s efforts]. What we are looking for is developers who can lead a project initiative.”
More area companies are looking for tech talent in this market, if monthly reports from the N.C. Tech Association are any indicator.
The reports, which show the number of tech job postings in the state, reveal a steady increase in available positions this year, with more than 21,500 statewide in March, April and May.
The Wilmington market also has shown a strong demand for tech. Since the beginning of 2018, there have been no fewer than 175 open tech positions in the Wilmington MSA.
Demand has escalated in the past two months, with 234 available positions in April – a 13 percent increase over the number in April 2017 – and 242 positions in May – almost 23 percent ahead of May 2017.
Not all those looking for tech talent want to employ workers themselves.
“There are a bunch of companies the size of ours that can’t afford their own tech person on staff, but their dependence on technology is the same as large companies,” said Kathleen Baylies, broker in charge at Just For Buyers Realty.
For Baylies’ and similar small companies, the availability of reliable outsourced tech support is essential. But Just For Buyers has encountered a problem, she said.
“We’ve twice hired a one-person tech company to help us, and each one was very good,” she said. “But in both cases they left Wilmington for larger markets.”