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TechHire_Akron employer spotlight

March 1, 2017

This interview is the first in TechHire’s Employer Spotlight Series which features employer voices from our TechHire communities. Interview conducted by TechHire Community Engagement Manager Laura Faulkner.

Interview with: Tony Prinzo, Talent Acquisition Manager at National Interstate Insurance
TechHire Community: Akron, OH

How did you learn about the TechHire initiative? What inspired you to get involved?

We first got involved with TechHire when we were invited to a meeting with ConxusNEO (our TechHire community lead) and local employers. We had an open discussion with business leaders and community members about the tech talent landscape and how we could work together to create a sustainable talent pipeline.

We were just on the forefront of working with our local training provider, the Software Guild, so everything just came together. The energy in the room and the passion for our community was inspiring. It is hard to find a more noble purpose than helping someone attain fulfilling work.

It is hard to find a more noble purpose than helping someone attain fulfilling work.

How have you engaged with TechHire?

We have worked together with the project team to advise on marketing materials, create career pathways, and analyze Burning Glass data. We also hosted a partner meeting onsite at National Interstate Insurance.

In Akron, we have an engaged core group of employers that are very interested in TechHire. A lot of our momentum is on the manufacturing side and not on the tech side, so there is a great opportunity to further engage. ConxusNEO is doing important work and they are an excellent representative of the TechHire brand.

Bringing in local government and C-Suite leaders as champions of this effort would unlock even more potential in our community.

How has partnering with TechHire benefited your company?

Our IT team has grown rapidly with the rest of the business. At one point, we created 12 new jobs and needed to work closely with the business to identify multiple sources for talent. Just as we were talking to the Software Guild, the TechHire initiative was brought to our attention. Our IT leadership was very engaged in exploring candidates from a coding bootcamp. The TechHire brand further reinforced our relationship with the Software Guild. We were now at the table working hand-in-hand with other local business leaders to support the program, as it was producing high-quality candidates.

TechHire is a lot of good people coming together and trying to impact the workforce in a positive way.

So far we’ve hired five employees through the program that have contributed to our growing IT function. The folks we’ve hired come from very unique and diverse backgrounds. Four of the five we’ve hired are still with us — and the one who left was actually recruited away to a local startup. This is a testament to TechHire’s mission and flooding the market with quality IT talent.

The talent that we have acquired as a result of our partnership with TechHire and the Software Guild has contributed to rounding out our IT team. These folks all have the talent and aptitude to be successful software developers, they just needed the right vehicle to make it happen. They have all increased their income and become valuable contributors to National Interstate Insurance Company.

These folks all have the talent and aptitude to be successful software developers, they just needed the right vehicle to make it happen.

We also have enjoyed visibility to community and civic leaders, which has given us an influential voice in the development of workforce strategies within the community. We have been able to fill positions and give our IT leaders accessibility to the Software Guild. TechHire is a lot of good people coming together and trying to impact the workforce in a positive way. I always feel inspired after a meeting.

As a recruiter, what are your thoughts on hiring folks based on skills and potential rather than pedigree and experience?

I would never undervalue formal education or a four-year degree — but skill-based hiring is critical to sustaining the workforce, especially in tech. STEM education is being widely adopted in classrooms across the country and the education landscape is changing as tech jobs become more desirable.

Human resources, recruitment managers, and hiring managers need to be creative and approach talent needs with open minds. Hiring based on skills will help business leaders at all levels to see the value of boot camps and other accelerated training programs.

Hiring based on skills will help business leaders at all levels to see the value of boot camps and other accelerated training programs.

We need to think through what a skills matrix looks like in our community. TechHire is helping focus our efforts around building a strong pipeline of tech talent.

Why do you think your colleagues at other organizations should get involved with TechHire?

TechHire communities will get out what they put in. The resources and mindshare that is a part of TechHire Akron has made our partnership with the Software Guild that much more meaningful.

Is there anything you want to share with job seekers interested in tech careers?

The tech skill gap is real, and anyone who is willing to invest in themselves to develop the skills employers need will be positively impacting their local community and economy.

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