City tech firms struggle to fill senior-level jobs with local talent, survey shows

The city’s booming tech companies are looking to broaden their footprints, but many are treading along without much help from homegrown talent.

One-half of New York City’s tech community are confident they can find new hires for their expanding companies within the city, according to a survey of 80 organizations slated to be released Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by the consulting group Accenture and a startup coalition called Tech:NYC, found that 80 percent of tech firms plan to hire more employees in 2018 than they did in 2017, with many looking to take on employees with experience in artificial intelligence, web engineering and mobile development. But only 37 percent of the companies will limit their search to the city.

Finding local, mid- and senior-level employees, who have at least five years of tech experience, can be particularly challenging because the city’s tech sector is relatively young, according to Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC. Currently, there are about 300,000 tech jobs in the city, which include an array of job titles and draw from a diverse pool of personnel, Samuels said.

But many local tech companies expect to field candidates for mid- and senior-level positions from the more established tech sectors in Silicon Valley, Boston and Seattle, according to the survey.

“Those jobs are the toughest to fill,” Samuels said. “Demand is still outpacing supply. Technology jobs at more senior levels haven’t fully grown from the crop of the new employees that have developed here in the last few years.”

Steven Kuyan, managing director of NYU Tandon Future Labs, said the city’s high cost of living prevents budding tech minds from staying and working their way up to senior level positions.

“Many of the startups that open in New York can’t yet pay the salary that these employees demand,” Kuyan said.

The shortage of senior talent is not expected to be a long-term concern, according to Samuels. She noted there are several initiatives meant to support the sector, including the city’s Tech Talent Pipeline training and networking program and Cornell Tech expanding its campus on Roosevelt Island. And tech companies, investors and other major players have taken notice, Samuels said.

“Those things are all part of a longer term play. They are crucial and it’s important that we see our city working in that way,” Samuels said.

Ryan Birchmeier, a spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, said the city remained committed to helping New Yorkers seize on more senior jobs in the industry.

“New York City’s tech ecosystem is growing rapidly, and the de Blasio Administration has been working to ensure local talent can fill upcoming job demand in the sector,” Birchmeier said in a statement.