Recently, I had the unique pleasure of attending my 8th TechServe Alliance Lobby Day. Held May 16 through 18 in Washington, D.C., the legislative conference offered a unique opportunity to meet one-on-one with Senate and House representatives to talk about the issues and challenges facing the IT and staffing industries.
As CEO of MAKE, I take great pride in representing our organization and our industry, discussing matters of importance and becoming involved in driving legislation. As a citizen of the United States and a business owner, I couldn’t help but draw the following benefits from the conference:
- The opportunity to educate. Lobbying offers a unique opportunity—the opportunity to educate representatives about the challenges and issues facing our industry. With the barrage of issues and information thrown at our nation’s leaders, Lobby Day presents the chance to truly educate these representatives not only on the “what,” but the “why,” “how” and “who.”
- The opportunity to make a real impact. Interacting with our representatives and learning about the inner workings of our government was incredibly enlightening and empowering to me as both a business owner and a citizen of the United States. Actually being on Capitol Hill and discussing issues that affect both me and my business is incredibly profound, and makes me extremely proud to be an American.
- The opportunity to build real relationships. As I mentioned previously, this was my 8th TechServe Alliance Lobby Day. Over the years, I’ve met with many representatives to discuss issues of importance, and I am proud to say that I have been recognized as a returning representative for our industry. The ability to build rapport and long-term relationships with our elected officials is an amazing opportunity, thanks to the TechServe Alliance.
I’d like to give a special thanks to some of the representatives who gave me an extended opportunity to meet and talk with them about pressing issues for the staffing and IT industries. In particular, Senator Chuck Grassley (IA), Representative Joe Walsh (IL) and Representative Peter Roskam (IL). During the conference, I met with each of these elected officials to discuss multiple laws and initiatives, including:
- Clarification of the Computer Professional Exemption. While our nation’s government works swiftly to change law to accommodate advancements, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has not kept pace with changes in the IT industry. Antiquated language written before the advent of the Internet is affecting the rights of many IT professionals. It simply has not kept pace with the constantly changing needs of this industry. Other industry representatives and I fully discussed the necessity for change in this critical area.
- Increased Educational and Training Opportunities in IT for U.S. Workers. Nationally, we are facing a shortage of highly skilled IT professionals. TechServe Alliance supports public policy initiatives that seek to increase the availability and attractiveness of education and training for U.S. professionals in high-tech fields. In particular, the STEM Coalition (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Coalition) has been striving to increase high-level tech training and opportunities in our nation.
What are the issues at the top of your list? We’d love to hear your opinions or input on challenges facing IT professionals today. Let us know in our comments section!