Silicon Valley techies look to Seattle ; Washington acts to expand tech opportunities in the schools

Gene Balk examines real estate search data from Redfin and learns that Seattle’s hot housing market still looks attractive to one group.

The online real-estate brokerage Redfin recently reported a surge in the number of searches from people in the Bay Area looking for homes in other places…

the data shows that for Silicon Valley folks hoping to relocate, Seattle is the No. 1 city in the country — or at least in the 36 states, plus Washington, D.C., where Redfin operates. So far in 2015, 1 out of every 8 home searches by a Silicon Valley flight risk is in the city of Seattle.

We’ve written before about how the state’s tech employers rely heavily on imported talent. So it’s good that the metro region remains attractive to tech workers. Ideally, however, to make the improvements in the state education system that will prepare Washingtonians for career and academic success.  

Lawmakers took an important step toward that goal by adopting new standards for computer science education, as reported by Melissa Santos.

The measure Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Wednesday requires the state to adopt computer science learning standards for K-12 students, as well as new standards for teachers to earn a computer science endorsement.

Supporters said the law will help train students to fill a growing number of jobs in the computer science and technology industry. According to the Washington Technology Industry Association, Washington companies create 2,000 more jobs per year above the number of qualified workers the state produces to fill them.

Closing that skills gap will produce significant economic benefits. A 2013 report by the Boston Consulting Group and Washington Roundtable found, 
There are 25,000 “acute” unfilled jobs in Washington today – jobs that have been unfilled for three months or more due to a lack of qualified candidates.  Eighty percent of these jobs are in high-demand health care and high-skill STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines such as computer science and engineering.
 
The gap is projected to grow by another 5,000 jobs per year, reaching 50,000 jobs, by 2017.  Ninety percent of those openings will be in health care and STEM roles.
 
…Filling the job skills gap would generate $720 million in annual state tax revenues and $80 million in local tax revenues by 2017. 
The study also identified the steps policymakers must take to close the gap.
Eliminating the job skills gap will require a set of key actions: (1) increase capacity and throughput of key programs in higher education; (2) align community college and technical school degree programs with employer needs; (3) enhance student interest and performance in STEM subjects in the K-12 system; (4) recruit skilled workers from other states; and (5) support international immigration.
For the foreseeable future, recruiting nationally and internationally will continue to be required. And, from the data, Seattle employers appear well positioned to compete. But increasing the in-state talent pool will pay significant dividends and expand opportunity for more Washingtonians eager to contribute to the innovation economy.