Austin’s small but its talent pool is mighty, ranks 12th globally


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin is shining on a global stage as one of the fastest-growing tech hubs with a rich talent pool. 

According to the latest research from JLL, Austin ranked 12th on the Global Top 20 Talent Hotspots list.

London topped the rankings, and other cities that made the list include Zurich, Paris and Melbourne. 

“It’s a coming out party for Austin,” explained Austin Trees, Senior Associate in Tenant Representation Group at JLL. “Austin is an extremely young city, relative to those cities.” 

The report noted about 12 percent of the city’s workforce is employed in high tech industries, and the number’s growing quickly. Trees said being a talent rich city also means Austin’s workforce is well educated.

Austin Chamber estimated in 2018 the Austin metro area had about 6,500 high tech employers.

Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple all have offices in Austin, and many recently announced plans to expand their footprint and hire hundreds more people. 

“It’s definitely a competitive market,” said Nada Lulic, Director of Human Resources at SpyCloud.

SpyCloud is a cybersecurity company that has about 40 employees. She said the rapid growth of those big tech giants is bringing highly talented potential employees to Austin, and in that talent pool, she’s finding applicants who prefer to work at smaller startups. 

“At one of those companies, you’re going to work for a brand name. You’re going to be on an interesting project with interesting technologies, but you’re always going to be part of a bigger team, a bigger group,” Lulic explained. At a startup, she said, “What you do, what each of us does, it’s really obvious how that’s going to affect the company and the growth of the company.” 

Whenever there’s an opening at SpyCloud, Lulic said: “We get a high number of applicants really quickly.”

As the talent pool continues to grow, Trees said, in the short term, he expects well-known tech giants to benefit. 

“They have quite the appetite,” he said. “I mean just between the top five, I think I can count in my head 15,000 jobs over the next three to four years.”

In the long term, however, he believes there will be a shift toward more startups growing. “With big tech comes extremely talented people who are extremely ambitious, and I think they will eventually roll out and start their own companies.” 

Trees said many companies open offices in Austin because of the city’s quality of living. Their employees tend to stay in Austin.

“Most employees, when they get hired, they have a three year vest on their stock,” said Trees. “And after that three year vest, they move to another company on the coast. Whereas what you’re seeing in Austin is that three year vest, and then they stick around for the long term.” 

Over the next five to 10 years, Trees said: “Eventually, it would be great to see a home grown unicorn. A private company with over a billion-dollar valuation.”

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