Texans hopeful new Apple campus will bring jobs, hire local graduates

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When the city of Austin learned Thursday morning that tech giant Apple would not only be expanding their operations in town but investing $1 billion in a second, North Austin campus, questions immediately surfaced about what jobs would be there and who would fill them. 

Apple announced that the 133-acre campus will start off with 5,000 employees and eventually grow to 15,000. This addition will make Apple the largest private employer in Austin. 

Already, Apple employs around 6,200 people in Austin, making the city the second largest home to Apple employees outside of the company headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The new campus will be just a mile away from the existing Austin campus.

Apple noted that the jobs available at the new campus will include engineering, Research & Development, operations, finance, sales, and customer support. 

KXAN asked Apple what the salary ranges and degree qualifications for these jobs are, they replied saying they couldn’t share at the moment. 

But Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s comments at the announcement seemed to hint that this expansion will bring jobs for people with a variety of different qualifications.

“We’re particularly gratified that the jobs that are part of this expansion run the gamut and include a whole bunch of middle-skill jobs,” Adler said.  He has made it clear in his time as mayor that he believes Austin needs more of these “middle skill” jobs which don’t necessarily require a four-year degree. 

In a statement, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman, Phil Wilson,  called these 5,000 new jobs coming soon to Austin as “mid-skill” and “good-paying.”

Governor Abbott hinted that he hopes Apple will draw from the pool of graduates coming out of Texas’ institutions of higher education. 

“We want to let you know we are proud of fact that Apple continues to invest in Texas, but I want you to know this: Texas will continue to invest in Apple,” the governor said at the Apple announcement. “And one of the best ways we can do that is: we are investing more in our world-class universities to make sure Apple will have access to the premier workforce in the entire world.”

Governor Abbott’s office later clarified that he meant he also hopes Apple will draw from the Texas talent coming out of two-year-degree programs, certificate programs and community colleges, adding that he wants the state to continue increasing the number of students who seek a postsecondary education. 

Austin Community College District already has a leg up on building relationships with Apple, in 2017 ACC began a partnership with the company to teach Apple’s programming language, Swift, to students. Apple CEO Tim Cook made a trip to Austin to kick off that effort. 

Classes including Swift began in the fall of 2017, and the first Apple Swift Specific class at ACC will start in the spring semester of 2019. ACC said 20 people are signed up for that Spring course, double what was expected. 

“They wouldn’t be partnering up with us if they didn’t want our graduates in some way or another, we are providing our students the training so they can get jobs through apple and other companies,” explained Garry Gaber, the Department Chair for Creative Technologies at ACC. 

“Oh, I think its so exciting,” Gaber said of the new Apple campus. “It’s like wow, like [ACC students] are probably going to get jobs over there or at least be able to apply for jobs over there and have the knowledge to get them.”

He explained that at ACC, students are learning to use Apple’s coding language to design apps.

ACC Game Design student Anthony Ortega is signed up to take the Swift course next semester, he’s hoping to translate the tools he’s learned with video game design to storytelling with iOS devices. 

Ortega loves creating fantasy worlds with the tools he’s used, currently, he’s working on creating a multi-level game around the premise of the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

Originally he’d been thinking he’d apply to video game companies in Austin when he graduates, but now he’s thinking, he may be able to translate the app creation skills he’s using to a job with Apple. Ultimately he’d like to work in a leadership role using the tools he’s learned. 

“That’s my idea, is to come up with a team to embrace that feeling that I got as a kid, of storytelling, and give that to other people as well,”  Ortega said. 

The addition of the new Apple campus, just about ten minutes away from where he’s going to school, makes him excited. He said it helps to ease some of the nerves he has about job security after he graduates. 

“I was out of the military a year ago, so I’m using the GI bill to floss up my resume,” he explained. 

Ortega was previously a field artillery officer, deployed to Korea and Afghanistan. 

It sounds like Apple may be looking to recruit veterans like him as employees. An Apple executive speaking at the Austin announcement Thursday praised the vibrant veteran community at the existing Austin Apple campus. 

Mayor Steve Adler noted at the event, “We are incredibly gratified that we are doing this with a company like Apple that continues to be a great place to work for veterans in our community.”

“I know Fort Hood is one of the largest bases here in the U.S. and with all those people getting out, it’d be nice for them to have an opportunity to get employed if they like the area as much as I do,” Ortega noted. He is not from Austin, but he loves the area and is looking for jobs so he can stay in the city for life. 

His only worry about the new campus: “I’m not looking forward to traffic though, but that’s another story,” Ortega laughed. 

Austin City Council Member Jimmy Flannigan views this expansion as more of a transportation benefit than a roadblock. 

“As many of us that drive on Parmer Lane know, the pavement heading north is empty, but when you build jobs in other parts of town, you can start to leverage all the transportation networks that we’ve built heading in both directions, which I think will be an asset,” Flannigan said. 

Both the existing Apple campus and the new one are both in Flannigan’s district. KXAN asked him, is that too much Apple for one Austin? 

“No,” he laughed, “Austin is big enough to accommodate everyone, I think that’s what’s beautiful about our city, all walks of life, good jobs, Austin is the place to do it.”

He also believes the new Apple campus will be a great place to anchor jobs and housing as a part of the North Austin community. 

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