Austin’s a “brain drain” city for tech talent — is that good or bad?

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is once again a top 10 city for having the most talented people working in the tech industry.

In CBRE’s 2019 “Scoring Tech Talent” report, Austin beat out other Texas cities like Dallas-Forth Worth and Houston.

“[Austin’s] the envy of just about every other tech city, not only in the United States, but globally,” said Spencer Levy, Chairman of Americas Research & Senior Economic Adviser.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Total tech occupations went up by almost 3,000, from 69,610 in 2017 to 72,360 in 2018.
  • The average office rent went from $34.99 in Q1 2018 to $37.62 in Q1 2019.
  • Austin is poised to become one of the largest tech growth markets in the next five to 10 years.

Levy told KXAN, “Talent, infrastructure and foreign money. The more you can get in all three of those things, the more you’re going to be able to attract and retain the talent in your market.”

He said Austin has foreign money that is driving the commercial real estate market to a greater degree. However, the city’s infrastructure needs major improvements.

“The short answer is the sooner the better,” according to Levy. He gave an example: “Kansas City is a market that has, I consider, not the best airport in America, but they’re putting $3 billion into it right now.”

Levy also added, believe it or not, “Austin is a net brain drain city even though it’s such a wonderful place to do business.”

What it means to be a “brain drain” city

Levy said seeing a high number of college graduates leave shows Austin “still has room to run, room to grow.”

When we checked with the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Computer Science, Chair Don Fussell said one likely reason for grads leaving Austin to find jobs could be “the number of students we train in Austin versus the number of jobs is pretty high.”

Fussell said his department grew exponentially in the last 10 years. They have about 1,800 undergraduate students, and the reason why it’s not any larger is because they put in place “enrollment controls.”

According to Fussell, about 40% of UT’s computer science majors stay in Austin after graduation. About 20% find jobs in the Bay Area.

Paul Toprac, Director of Game Development and Design, told KXAN, while many of his students find jobs easily in the gaming industry, they do have to compete.

“The game industry likes to always hire senior talent,” he said. “They always like to go for, hunt for senior talent, and I’m always trying to convince them it’s good to be a farmer, and you raise some great talent. They have to hire them when they’re young.”

Alexa Larsen who graduated from UT in 2017 said she moved to San Francisco and is now working at a tech company.

She said, “I never thought I would end up in San Francisco.”

She sees Austinites who move to California, but also sees California natives moving to Austin for tech jobs.

“There are so many different tech companies, but there are so many different qualifying people applying for one role,” Larsen explained.

Experts do expect Austin’s tech industry to continue to grow.

When they do, Toprac said more types of jobs — ranging from tech giants to startups — will be available, and subsequently, more people, including UT grads, will be able to apply for those openings.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

More Austin-Travis County News

Trending Stories

Don't Miss