If every IT vacancy causes your company to scramble to hire a worker with a computer science degree, you may be overlooking some key cost-effective talent within your own company.

With an expected job growth rate of 12 percent from 2014 through 2024, the computer and information technology field is expected to grow significantly faster than most fields. Already, companies have difficulties finding talented tech workers at a reasonable salary, and projections indicate that salaries and demand will continue to grow.

However, most of the work that happens in an IT department doesn’t require a specialized degree to understand. Motivated workers with some training can quickly advance to doing software installs, software support and basic hardware updates without prior IT experience.

Eric Tewey

Eric Tewey is Vice President of Technology at Swisher International.

Eric Tewey, currently vice president at Swisher International, realized that by training workers in-house to complete these IT tasks, companies could create excellent employees willing to work for economical wages. Tewey first developed this method of turning non-IT workers into IT staff at MatrixOneSource, so he could hire the staff he needed at a reasonable rate for the company. He began calling his program Plus One, and it could be the solution to your budget problems and IT needs as well.

Encouraging a Growth-Oriented Workforce

The key to making the Plus One program work for your company is finding the employees that want to dedicate themselves to learning IT. In most cases, you can find these workers at your company doing lower-level work in other departments. If you’re a midmarket CIO, you may also find good Plus One program prospects applying for IT jobs, but these applicants won’t have the necessary skills yet.

After you identify a Plus One candidate, you can have the worker start to shadow an existing IT employee. Once the Plus One employee can start working on a service desk without guidance, it’s important that your network engineers and other IT staff commit to making him stronger. By emphasizing a team-oriented approach, these newer Plus One workers can advance to engineering positions and your current network engineers are free to handle more complicated problems that actually require their expertise.

When MatrixOneSource used the Plus One program, it promoted a warehouse worker to the service desk, and now’s she’s a client engineer. MatrixOneSource also used their interviewing pool to identify good Plus One candidates. One man with a passion for tech didn’t get his preferred job due to lack of experience, but MatrixOneSource hired him as a service desk technician. After 36 months, he’s a network service engineer.

Benefits of Changing Your IT Philosophy

Still not sure that Plus One could reduce your IT staffing problems? Consider this: The average tech support starting salary is around $60,000, and there’s less than a one-percent unemployment rate. However, if you can find a worker with the right temperament and commitment towards advancing in the workforce, you can train that person to work at the average service desk for a $35,000 starting salary.

Of course, Plus One is just a piece of the overall workforce management puzzle. To truly exceed expectations within your IT department, you should be constantly looking for ways to automate technology, eliminate or delegate simple tasks and reduce the impact that IT problems have on overall productivity.

While some of these problems require a larger budget to address, you can implement many of these changes with a net-zero budget. Remember, these changes aren’t a simple IT initiative; they’re a workforce strategy that allows your company to find more money and man hours within an existing budget. With the savings that your IT department generates, your company can hire more sales representatives and fund more innovations that move the entire team forward. And that’s good business for everyone involved.