Attracting Top Tech Talent to Dallas

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By: JLL Dallas

While attending a recent presentation on DFW’s tech presence at the Dallas Regional Chamber, a question came to mind: “In terms of attracting and retaining tech talent, where does Dallas-Fort Worth stand?” San Francisco and Silicon Valley are synonymous with tech startups, software engineers, and venture capital funding, but what does the picture look like in other major metropolitan areas across the United States?

JLL Researcher Sam Wood, who has a master’s degree in Urban Planning and has focused on economic development, decided to investigate.  It turns out that tech talent is not just concentrated in the Bay Area, but in many other cities across the US. SW Graphic

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Employment Statistics (May 2015), JLL Tech Research

To better understand this, Wood created a chart using a metric known as a location quotient (LQ). Location quotient is a ratio that compares an area’s distribution of employment by industry compared against a base area. In this case, LQs for each metropolitan area are in relation to the United States as the base area. Any LQ greater than one (LQ > 1) indicates a higher distribution of employment in Computer and Mathematical Occupations than the United States as a whole.

The Bay Area has an LQ of 2.7, indicating that Computer and Mathematical Occupations take up a much larger share of the local employment base, where in the US overall that share is lower.

“It’s not surprising to find that the Bay Area takes the top spot,” said Wood. “But what is surprising is seeing Dallas-Ft Worth has done quite well solidifying a fifth place spot in terms of tech job concentration.”

The history of technological innovation in the Bay Area goes back more than a generation, bolstering its reputation as a tech mecca. Similarly, Dallas has a strong reputation for innovation and patent creation (think Texas Instruments). It may equally be as important is where these employees are receiving their education. Below is a table of the top-ten undergraduate computer science and engineering programs in the country.

top-ten undergraduate computer science and engineering programs in the country

Source: U.S. News and World Report, Computer Rankings

The state of California owns three of the top-ten spots on this list, giving the state a large graduate pool to draw from for tech talent. Conversely, the state of Texas has one university in the top-ten list, giving the region significantly fewer graduates from which to pull. In fact, Texas does not have any other spots in the top-25 computer science programs in the country.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals in excess of one million positions over the next decade. As tech continues to drive job creation, communities must do all they can to attract that growth.

Dallas-Fort Worth is known for its ability to attract corporate headquarter relocations, and it is a job creation machine. Of the 353,000 Computer and Mathematical employees in the state of Texas, DFW is home to almost half of those.

“Our region has a dense pool of highly-skilled professionals,” said JLL Director of Research Walter Bialas. “Though relocating companies are finding success enticing many of their employees to relocate with them, they’re able to fill positions of those who do not with qualified candidates across just about all industries.”

While this is promising, what can DFW do differently to attract more tech talent as it moves into the future?

“For one, DFW and Texas need to place greater emphasis on educational programs to meet demand for highly skilled tech workers,” suggested Wood. “The proliferation of ‘coding bootcamps’, such as The Flat Iron and Tech Talent South, seem to be promising means to meet growing demand for tech talent in the area. This can come from more investment in computer science and software engineering programs is required at the universities in the state, as well as other technological disciplines. “

Several Texas schools are already receiving high marks for their computer engineering curriculum, including some in the metroplex (Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Dallas, and University of Texas at Arlington) and others located within five hours (University of Houston, Texas A&M University, and Rice University). Perhaps these universities will provide the basis for a growing job pipeline of tech-savvy professionals in the Lone Star State.

Additional reports and articles from the JLL Research team at http://www.jll.com/dallas/en-us/research.

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One thought on “Attracting Top Tech Talent to Dallas

  1. SWood

    As Lance Murray alluded in his follow up article to the one posted above, the February announcement from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is a boon for Texas schools. Several universities in the DFW region were elevated to ‘highest research activity status’ in light of recent strides made in several areas of academic research.

    This re-classification can only help further bolster the strong academic and research community in DFW, and give employers incentive to hire graduates from the Dallas region, as well as consider locating business near these institutions.

    Reply

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