CQL Labs: A Commitment to Expanding Our Knowledge

Erlenmeyer flasks

Let’s face it, the Economic Principle of Supply and Demand is heavily at work within the software development industry. According to, by “2020 there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and only 400,000 computer-science students to fill those positions. That adds up to a $500 billion gap in the job force.”

U.S. News and World Report stated, “the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22.8 percent employment growth for software developers between 2012 and 2022, much faster than average for all occupations. During that time period, an estimated 139,900 jobs will need to be filled. The profession's superb job prospects, low unemployment rate and excellent median salary helped it grab the coveted No. 1 spot in our ranking of the Best Jobs of 2014.”

In Grand Rapids, MI alone, I sit on three separate committees all trying to solve the issues of how to attract new developers to our city. These committees are made up of either owners of software companies or joint activities among software organizations and the businesses to whom we are trying to sell our services. All of us feel the same pinch of supply and demand constraints, and all of us are trying to get creative in solving the problem. I’ve even sat dumbfounded as one committee member who represents a large organization in Grand Rapids announced that he had just received funding for a Poaching Program to go after software development resources from area companies. That is not a healthy solution nor is it one that has long-term sustainability.

Providing a work environment people want, and the type of work that people want to do will ultimately determine if a business can attract quality individuals even when the supply is tight. One element we have added this year is a commitment to the growth of our employees in the form of “free time” put toward work of an individual’s choosing. Today marks the fifth installment of CQL Creative Labs, a bi-weekly time set aside for CQL’s delivery team (i.e., developers, designers, digital service providers, etc.) to allot four hours to ‘work of their choosing’ that somehow relates to expanding their knowledge of software tools, processes, creation of new works, or some other related activity.

CQL’s “ask” in this program is for individual team members to be willing to share the ideas and knowledge they gain during Lab Time with other team members. Each Lab Time starts with a 20 minute stand-up where each Team Member shares how they will be spending their Lab Time that day. To date, team members have used their Lab Time to play around with new coding languages, product ideas, some Open Source learning tools, and even a few Team Members re-designing our office space using 3D Modeling tools.

Today, we will have our first presentations being made - one team member demoing a simple report building tool, and another an online training tool they been using. We understand that Google eventually did away with their 20% program, but we remain committed to providing this creative outlet for our team members.

Photo Credit: Amy Loves Yah via Compfight cc

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