The increasing ranks of Wichita’s tech workforce don’t come as a surprise if you consider the city’s IT assets
With the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and the third highest percentage of those jobs that are considered very high-tech, Wichita private industry consistently demands and attracts substantial numbers of talented IT professionals – who often put down roots in our affordable economy. Wichita employers benefit from exclusive access to military personnel building impressive resumes in the secure intelligence environments at McConnell Air Force Base. Then there are the graduates of the area’s numerous business-responsive tech programs at universities, community colleges and technical institutes throughout the Wichita metro. Put it all together and what emerges is a clear case for a city that the Brookings Institution recently ranked 22nd among the largest 100 U.S. metros for science, technology, engineering and math-related jobs (STEM jobs.)
A Private Sector Rich in IT Workers
A cross section of Wichita’s growing IT cluster companies, and their industries, provides a profile of tech employment that integrated into a diverse business community:
• Koch Industries (3,500 local employees) – Global headquarters of this diversified private company with 100,000+ employees worldwide working in energy, petrochemicals, textiles and paper products.
• NetApp (558 employees) – Product developer for the E-Series data storage systems.
• Alexander Open Systems (432 employees) – Cisco IP telephony, Cisco security, Cisco wireless, EMC storage, HP servers, VMware.
• ISG Technology (224 employees) – Regional network of data centers, IT infrastructure bandwidth provider, IT as service (ITaaS).
• High Touch (170 employees) – Wichita is corporate home of this expanding solution developer in hardware, software and network security for small to mid-size businesses.
• Cybertron International (90 employees) – Computer hardware/software, managed IT services, virtual CIO programs, website design/hosting, cloud services/hosting.
• Heartland Technology Solutions (78 employees) – Networking, security, cloud, break/fix.
WSU Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) – Wichita State University’s EECS department offers one of the few Masters-level programs in computer networking in the U.S.. In addition to its routing and switching laboratory, EECS has research labs where students conduct state-of-the-art IT research. Studies have included algorithms and software systems, communication signal processing, computer networking, computer systems and architecture, control systems and power systems. WSU recently formed a partnership with NetApp to provide real-world experience for EECS students in learning labs that are on-site at the tech employer’s Wichita solutions development facility.
There are 19 other community colleges, tech schools and universities offering IT programs – including:
• Wichita Technical Institute with programs in Computer Technology and Network Administration (approximately 70 graduates annually.)
• Butler County Community College IT Academy – Enables students to graduate from high school with associate degrees in a variety of tech fields.
When new employers come to town, the Partnership works with the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to facilitate the acquisition of qualified workers. The Alliance can provide a professional location for offsite job fairs in downtown Wichita, access to a ready pool of applicants and assistance in raising awareness of the employer’s recruitment campaign. The Alliance can also help with prescreening of applicants and a number of other services – all at no cost to the employer.
Kansas Air National Guard 184th Intelligence Wing
Companies seeking talent in network security and other IT development fields will find a wealth of human resources ready and available among the experts who work in the 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard at Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base. About two-thirds of the KSANG 184th’s 1,380 members are employed part-time on base and either already hold or are seeking full-time IT positions in the community. The result has been a pipeline of highly trained and available talent which KSANG is ready and willing to place with new and existing Wichita companies.
These personnel are highly reliable and experienced in secure network protocols, having qualified for some of military’s highest security clearances. A partial list of their certifications includes: S+, CISM, CISSP, A+, Network +, GSEC, GCIH, .NET, JAVA, Web Dev, C++, C#, MCSE, MCSA, CSSA, MCDBA, MCP, Reverse Engineering, Exploit Development, CCNA, GCIA, Itil Fdtsv3, NCDA, SCCM, RCSP, ITSM, CCSA and CCDRS.
The Partnership maintains close working relationships with the 184th and has worked with IT firms like NetApp, CCH, High Touch and Pulse Systems to find positions for members of this talented team. Wichita IT employers have the advantage of this opportunity to build their companies on the strength of a specially trained pool of dedicated professionals.
Tech Sites and Infrastructure
A number of real estate options are available in the Downtown Wichita and Old Town areas – as well as in the historic riverside Delano District. Many of these properties provide the open collaborative work space that many tech teams prefer.
Wichita is supported by three fiber optic networks: Cox Business Services, Level 3 Communications and AT&T. Most of these networks are deployed through secure underground conduit and all are designed to provide redundancy and automatic rerouting in the event of a malfunction. Outages and downtime in Wichita are virtually zero.