Saturday, June 30, 2007

Generation Y Pittsburgh

The ever-growing talent crunch is causing different enterprises to canvass American tech schools in search of people to hire. The targets are the Millennials, the generation born from 1982 to 2002. However, those born after 1990, the last year of the Baby Boomer echo, belong to a shrinking cohort and a much tighter supply of talented labor. The list of target schools is small and the interest in mobile foreign labor grows yearly:

To fill math-intensive jobs, banks are bringing in more non-U.S. employees—people like [Qiushuang Zhang (Before earning her master’s degree in computer science at Georgia Institute of Technology in May, Zhang had two job offers from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., two from Microsoft Corp. and one from Google Inc.)] who came to the United States to study. They typically started out in countries such as China or India, which have been more focused on math and science education. One dividend is the knowledge of cultures where firms such as Goldman aim to expand.

‘‘We know that we are hot property,’’ says Rishi Dhingra, a master’s degree candidate in quantitative and computational finance at Georgia Tech.

Banks are adding engineering schools to the roster of business campuses where they recruit. During the past two years, Citigroup Inc. has started visiting Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.; and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

‘‘We tell them, ‘You could be the person to create software that’s used on a trading floor tomorrow,’ ’’ says Caitlin McLaughlin, Citigroup’s global head of graduate recruitment. At a tech company, she says, developing a new product can take months or years.

Of concern to Pittsburgh, more and more companies from around the world will come to CMU to pilfer the best and brightest, particularly those with intimate knowledge of emerging markets. The pressure to leave Pittsburgh will only increase. Any attempt to resist the inevitable out-migration will fail and is a waste of regional resources.

The good news is that CMU is producing some of the world's most desirable talent. Pittsburgh will continue to be a great place to get an education. Thanks to the University of Pittsburgh and CMU, to name the big two, the region has a prominent place on the global stage. The next step is to align the policy accordingly. I'm still waiting to see an indication that at least a few local kingmakers understand the current migration trend and how to leverage it to Pittsburgh's advantage.

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