Whether or not computer science enrollments will rebound in the next few years is uncertain, but either way, it’s clear that companies can’t just sit back and expect colleges to provide a steady stream of programmers for them to hire.

“The war for talent is not over,” says Greg Fittinghoff, vice-president of business systems development at Time. “Traditional recruitment methods are not enough.”

He advocates that businesses network with organizations such as the Society for Information Management, encourage referrals from internal employees and develop in-house talent.

“We’re hiring very junior candidates and investing in their training — professional and technical,” Fittinghoff says. “The goal is to develop talented IT professionals who also have a very good understanding of our business and processes.”

Companies are reaching deeper into the educational field to develop interest at an early age. But there are also unique opportunities, depending on one’s own business model. At IBM, its Academic Initiative outreach program develops curricula for and provides free software and discounted hardware to junior high and high schools and colleges.

“Wal-Mart’s CEO said they couldn’t hire enough people who really understand how to develop logistics and do the business process engineering around logistics,” says Mark Hanny, vice-president of IBM’s Academic Initiative. “So we worked with the University of Arkansas to build courses, not just on how to program Java, but how to build the right business processes that would automate and support these processes.”

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