It is apparent from what we see in our experience along with the broader industry statistics that colleges and universities are having difficulties in hiring enough information technology workers. A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education recounts a recent survey of college leaders, hiring managers, and administrators. Of the 720 respondents to the survey, nearly 4 in 5 said that their campus has more open positions than in the preceding year. For those looking to hire information technology workers, low unemployment rates, high demand, and a limited supply combine to make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain enough talent. This includes workers whose specialty is the ERP platform, Ellucian Banner.
In this piece, we offer insight into the current state of the market for Ellucian Banner talent along with some thoughts on how your institution might increase its ability to attract and retain the skills required to manage and use the ERP platform.
Being a big fish in a smaller pond comes with challenges
Ellucian Banner is one of the more widely used ERP platforms in the higher education market. According to their numbers, 1,400 institutions worldwide use Ellucian Banner. This gives the platform a healthy foothold in a specialized market. This niche focus does limit the size of the pool of talent who by working on Ellucian Banner often forego bigger and potentially more lucrative opportunities in markets that other ERP vendors service. For example, Oracle’s ERP platform, which is also used in the higher ed market, reportedly has approximately 25,000 customers across many industries.
The challenges of finding and retaining Ellucian Banner talent
According to a survey conducted by the research firm Gartner, talent shortages are the biggest barrier to organizations adopting emerging technologies – greater than security or cost barriers. For colleges and universities implementing ERP solutions, the assumption is that their investment will be recaptured in improved operations and enhanced efficiencies. The inability to acquire the sufficient skills necessary to effectively manage and use their ERP platforms threatens their ability to attain those goals. The imbalance in the supply and demand for Ellucian Banner talent has widespread ramifications:
- The high demand coupled with a limited supply of Ellucian Banner tech talent is driving up the cost of hiring and retention.
- Ellucian Banner training programs, which could help offset some of the supply/demand imbalance, aren’t widely available.
- Non-existent or ineffective knowledge transfer programs mean that when key Ellucian Banner talent leaves it can create a vacuum of knowledge regarding critical processes and procedures.
Higher ed institutions that currently have sufficient Ellucian Banner skilled workers now find these workers harder to retain:
- Tech talent, even those with niche skills, can be retrained to work in many tech sectors. One of the findings of the earlier cited survey was that 77% of respondents said that higher education is a less appealing place to work than it was.
- Larger schools with deeper pockets can poach Ellucian Banner talent from smaller schools that don’t have the resources to match higher offers.
These are significant challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable.
What can colleges/universities do to acquire and retain the Ellucian Banner skills they need to meet their goals?
Given our experience in helping higher education institutions address such talent shortages, there are steps to take that can improve the success rates of Ellucian Banner talent acquisition programs:
- Expand the reach of talent recruitment efforts by employing new advertising methods and messaging.
- Implement internal Ellucian Banner training programs to widen the core of platform knowledge and by offering skill-building opportunities, help retain existing workers.
- Establish formal Ellucian Banner knowledge transfer procedures to help ensure that when knowledgeable people leave someone can fill their role – even if just temporarily.
- Consider using contractors to help find specialized Ellucian Banner talent. Here at Zeetek we have helped one west coast college by providing several Ellucian Banner consultants to fill immediate needs.
- Broaden the type of talent considered for Ellucian Banner roles to include inexperienced workers with the aptitudes and desire to learn the ERP system. Also, consider recruiting workers experienced with other ERP systems who might find the EdTech workplace better suited to their current needs.
A long-term commitment to improving recruitment and retention rates of Ellucian Banner workers can help differentiate your organization from others competing for the same limited talent pool.
As the education ERP market grows, the talent related challenges will as well
According to a study by Persistence Market Research, the education ERP market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16% by 2023. Other studies also anticipate robust growth in this market. Schools experiencing pains in finding/retaining Ellucian Banner talent need to better position themselves for even more intense competition for skilled ERP talent.