The Austin tech sector’s growth between now and 2017 will be complicated by a thin pipeline of STEM talent.
Today, technology companies contribute some $21 billion to the local economy, about 25 percent of the total, according to the Austin Technology Council’s Technology Economic Impact Report. This year, nearly 80 percent of those businesses expect to add staff, and the report predicts the sector will create some 9,000 jobs by 2017.
As a result, says ATC Chairman Joel Trammell, area tech businesses must focus on “ensuring the region has an adequate talent supply to sustain our growth. Tech must invest in aggressive recruiting and training methods.”
The city’s overall employment picture illustrates the challenge local companies face: They need employees more than employees need them. From the Recession’s low point through today, Austin demonstrated the highest percentage of job growth in the U.S., according to the Brookings Institution; the third lowest unemployment rate in the country, according to the ATC; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the city showed the greatest year-to-year increase in employment of any U.S. metropolitan area.
Among the report’s other findings:
- The area’s fastest growing tech sectors between 2012 and 2017 will be Engineering Services, Computer and Computer Peripheral Equipment and Software Merchant Wholesalers, and Custom Computer Programming Services.
- The job categories expected to face the greatest talent shortages through 2017 are software application developers, software systems developers, and customer support specialists.
- The region’s fastest growing tech occupations today are computer systems analyst, software applications developer, computer support specialist and software systems developer.
To fill its pipeline, one of the ATC’s strategies is to find more ways to support Central Texas educational institutions in creating STEM programs. At its CEO Summit this week, the association also wants to explore ways tech companies can conduct more effective searches, and “align” themselves with companies in creative industries and non-technology organizations.