Early in OpTech’s infancy as a company, it was clear that there was a shortage of tech talent to develop complicated modeling applications and streamline business. These numbers have grown exponentially since then. “With nearly 125,000 job openings in Michigan alone, the demand has outpaced the supply for tech talent. Nearly 35 percent of college graduates leave the state, so it’s critical to retain the talent we have and find solutions to train and grown them. Given the digital economy and our mobility industry, we need top notch tech talent to be competitive,” says Ronia.
She and her staff at OpTech worked with Global Detroit to research Michigan’s STEM students, and they learned that most PhDs in STEM are international. Ronia believes one way to address the talent gap is to retain international students after graduation. “Unfortunately, the Midwest is risk-averse, which prevents organizations from taking advantage of this invaluable international talent pool,” she says. “Google, Amazon, and other high-profile companies are winning the war on talent with their recruiting efforts, scooping them up, which is ultimately our loss.”
In order to address the challenges international students face in their job search, OpTech partnered with universities and corporations in a program to reduce friction, increase transparency, and mitigate obstacles that are currently preventing international students from staying in Michigan. For each international graduate enrolled, OpTech facilitates and absorbs immigration services, filings and investments; provides on-going training; and offers interview and resume coaching to increase the effectiveness of the interview process, along with on-boarding assistance and soft skills training to ensure job success. “We currently have a database of over 200,000 individuals and have the ability to separate out international STEM students, and we partner with Fakhoury Law Group for legal compliance,” she explains.
“Statistics show that the more diverse an organization’s workforce, the more profitable it is,” Ronia observes. Her parents came to the U.S. from Jordan in 1968 to find a better life. She feels fortunate to have grown up here and is passionate about the importance of diversity: “We have worked for so long to educate others on the importance of bringing international talent here, to retain and grow these individuals in our community. We look forward to working with corporations to seamlessly onboard this international talent.”