Dane County is one of the top 10 counties in the nation for growth in the information technology job sector, according to a new report from the Progressive Policy Institute.
The county ranked No. 9 on the list of best counties for information technology jobs, which Brian Rust, University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology spokesperson, called “quite astounding.” Rust said Wisconsin has 72 counties, and to have Dane County ranked No. 9 in nationally is very good.
Dane County has many technology professionals, and many people with advanced degrees, Rust said. He said UW has a great computer science department and it is usually one of the top 10 in the country.
“It’s an observation of something that a lot of us have known for some time and that Madison has a very robust IT community,” said Rust. “Not only with the university here, but with a lot of startup and established businesses that work with IT.”
Rust said the IT jobs available at UW range from developers who code for applications or those who develop codes for programs like the student financial system or the UW Student Center. He added UW has an additional software-based service that students use to register and maintain their classes.
Rust said other IT occupations in Dane County also include managing websites like that of local retailer ShopBop or those that involve the university. IT jobs also deal with human resources, which keep track of faculty, staff and student employment information, he said.
Rust said it is important to examine the criteria used in assigning the rankings to determine the value of the study for the Dane County community. He said the criteria of this study is a good indication of the booming technology sector in the area.
Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, said the ranking is good news. However, she said she has concerns that not everyone in the county has the same access to the technology jobs the ranking considers. She said this creates a divide in the county.
“I think part of it is an issue in terms of access to jobs and what kinds of jobs are accessible,” Wegleitner said. “Some people think there are two Madisons in Dane County. But to have a combination of educated work force and creative thinkers and people starting and running businesses that use technology is what composes our No. 9 ranking.”
Although she said this ranking is exciting for the city, Wegleitner said Madison has many types of poverty and Dane County needs to improve its access to employment opportunities.
Rust echoed this, saying the county should be able to provide job and skill training for more of the population.