Any industry requires interconnected elements to thrive in a given region: not only successful companies, but housing and recreation that can attract and retain skilled workers. A group of business and civic leaders held a panel discussion last Thursday focusing on the challenges faced in the technology sector in Zco Corporation’s home state of New Hampshire.

Leaders panel discussion image displays a map of high technology companies in Nashua NH area

Dan Scanlon displays a map of select technology companies in the Nashua, NH area.

Co-sponsored by the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, the event was held at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. It was branded as a “legislative outreach”, with a number of state representatives attending.

Many of the concerns, and possible solutions, brought up by the panel reflect trends in the nation’s technology sector as a whole.

Workers at a Premium

According to Carmen Lorentz of the state’s Division of Economic Development, the number of unique high tech jobs going unfilled has increased markedly in the past year, from around 1,400 to 2,650. Bill Chisholm, Principal Talent Acquisition Consultant for Fidelity Investments, said that low unemployment among technologists in the workforce makes job-training programs to get more people into tech fields very important.

“The biggest tech challenges we’ll face in five years, we probably haven’t conceived of yet,” Chisholm said.

Kate Luczko, president and CEO of Stay Work Play NH, encouraged employers to be flexible with work schedules and compensation to motivate younger workers. “This generation is very purpose-oriented,” she said. “Millennials really want to create a better future.”

Internships and apprenticeships, she suggested, could give students and recent grads a competitive advantage while contributing to a local company. Tuition reimbursement would attract both people looking to expand their skillsets and graduates with existing debt.

Benjamin Frost of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority addressed the “supply mismatch” facing younger workers – a glut of large houses and a shortage of smaller residences in more urban, walkable neighborhoods. Similarly, Dan Scanlon of Colliers International said, businesses are often unable to find the right kinds of facilities for manufacturing or energy-intensive uses like server farms.

One other recurring theme throughout the night was the need for better transportation infrastructure – namely, passenger rail connecting Boston with New Hampshire’s southern cities.

What’s the tech industry like in your region? Are skilled workers hard to come by or flooding your inbox with resumes?

Tags: technology sector in new hampshire, saint anselm college, tech jobs, it careers, technology current event, high tech companies, tech sector, technology companies in nashua