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Half of New York’s Tech Workers Lack College Degrees, Report Says


The fast-growing technology industry in New York is often cited as a magnet for graduates of the nation’s top universities. But a new report to be discussed in a speech by a deputy mayor on Wednesday found that almost half of the technology jobs in the city are filled by people without college degrees.

The report was commissioned to show just how important the tech sector has become, estimating that it accounts for nearly 300,000 jobs in the city, more than half of them at companies in nontechnology businesses, such as finance and advertising.

Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, is expected to highlight that overall finding when she speaks to the Association for a Better New York.

The rising importance of technology companies and the corporate use of technology have been well documented. But less noticed is how broad a range of opportunities technology has created for people seeking work in the city, said Andrew Rasiej, the chairman of NY Tech Meetup, one of the sponsors of the report.


The school’s dean, Avi Flombaum, says 124 of his 126 graduates have found work.CreditMichael Appleton for The New York Times 

The other sponsors of the report, which was prepared by HR&A Advisors, include the Association for a Better New York, Citi and Google.

Mr. Rasiej said that he and other entrepreneurs and tech executives in the city hoped the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio would create more continuing education and job-training programs to prepare New Yorkers for the sort of jobs the industry is creating. He said he would also like the mayor to press for expanded high-speed access to the Internet at a low cost.

A spokesman for Ms. Glen declined to say what policies she would propose on Wednesday.

Ms. Glen, in a statement, called the tech industry “our pipeline to the middle class” and added, “It’s our job to develop the work force these fast-growing companies need so people from our schools and our neighborhoods have a real shot at these good-paying jobs.”

At least one other city official appears to share that view: The report was managed by Carl Weisbrod before he left HR&A, a real estate consulting firm, to accept Mr. de Blasio’s appointment as chairman of the city’s Planning Commission.

The report’s author, Kate Wittels, the director of HR&A, said “the spectrum of tech-related occupations — from programmers to sales reps — is creating well-paying and quality jobs for New Yorkers at all levels of educational attainment.”

Tech companies in the city employ about 140,000 people and as many as 150,000 others have tech jobs in other companies, the report estimates. About 44 percent of those jobs do not require a college degree, but on average, they pay about 45 percent more than the typical hourly wage in the city, according to the report.

Mr. Rasiej said that premium was partly because tech jobs paid better and partly because technology companies tended to pay more than companies in some other big industries in the city, such as health care and retailing.

Many of the tech jobs are with large banks and media companies that have relatively high pay scales. At Citi, more than 10 percent of the company’s 17,000 jobs in the city are tech positions, said Melissa Stevens, who is the head of Internet and mobile banking for Citi.

Indeed, she said she started at the bank 16 years ago in the human resources department and moved to the digital side of the company just eight years ago.

“Really, in an industry like ours, technology is at the heart of everything we’ve done,” she said.

Many of the most lucrative opportunities are in programming, a field where demand for talent outstrips the current supply, said Avi Flombaum, the dean of the Flatiron School, which trains people in software coding.

Mr. Flombaum, who dropped out of college several years ago to create programming for a hedge fund, said all but two of the 126 graduates of his 12-week course have found work. Their average starting pay, he said, was $82,000.

Some of the students at the Flatiron School did not attend or finish college and others are older adults looking to switch careers, Mr. Flombaum said. “There are more programming jobs than there are programmers right now,” he said.

Mr. Flombaum, who said he took advantage of a $250,000 grant from the city to move to larger quarters near Wall Street, gave the administration of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg high marks for encouraging the development of the tech industry. Asked what he wanted from the de Blasio administration, Mr. Flombaum said, “Stay out of the way in terms of legislation or new laws.”

Half of New York’s Tech Workers Lack College Degrees, Report Says