Friday, June 23, 2006

The Battle of Baltimore

According to an article in The Baltimore Sun this week:
"...experts say that mantras like "war on talent" that were heard during the tech boom of the late '90s are coming back. "
Again, no surprise here that things are as tough in Charm City as they are in DC, the two metropolitan areas have more or less merged anyway over the past 10-15 years.

One thing that the article doesn't discuss in detail however is just how much more difficult it is hiring 'cleared' talent in the Baltimore area, and how much worse it's going to get thanks to the BRAC (the article does make a brief mention of 40-60K new jobs coming to the area as a result of the BRAC). There is a certain government agency south of Baltimore that requires security clearances at the highest levels. People who work there typically live near there, as a commute from DC or Virginia is just too much for most. And unlike DC and Virginia, this agency is the only game in town. As a result, the pool of candidates is extremely shallow to begin with, and furthermore, salaries for talent with these clearances have shot through the roof.

It will only get worse too. As the article mentioned, the BRAC is going to bring thousands of new tech and knowledge-based jobs to the Baltimore area by moving DISA (and other functions) to Ft. Meade and CECOM (and other functions) to Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Adding more jobs to Ft. Meade where there is already a severe cleared talent shortage in the local area is will only continue to oversaturate a market with many times more jobs than people to fill them. Now a commute for some of those who currently work for and support DISA may not be so unreasonable. But Aberdeen is a different story altogether.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds is currently a sleepy Army base on the shores of the Chesapeake. In addition to the Army base, you have three things in Aberdeen: Farmers, fishermen, and Cal Ripken Jr. What you don't have is relevant engineering talent who live in a reasonable commutable distance. Furthermore, although active duty servicemembers currently stationed at Ft. Monmouth, NJ will move to Aberdeen (because they are told to do so), it is unlikely that many of the civilian workers or contractors who support Ft. Mo will be as motivated to relocate.

So, if the "experts" think that the War for Talent is just coming back, wait a few years, the battles have only just begun. At least the Greater Baltimore Tech Council is planning ahead, the MoshPit concept is a move in the right direction.


At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live and work in the WDC/Balto area and work with quite a few people in CECOM at Ft. Monmouth. I have asked many of them if they intend to move or not. The result of my informal poll is that about 50% will be moving. ALL of those that I spoke with that are at or near retirement do NOT plan on moving.


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