Breaking Down the South Florida Tech Talent Report



Earlier this year, Tech Hub South Florida commissioned a study on the tech workforce and job opportunities here in South Florida.


The study, titled 2020 South Florida Tech Talent Report, provides data-driven answers to many comments floating around the Miami Tech community like:

  • Is there enough tech talent in South Florida?

  • There is no senior engineering talent here.

  • We need a big exit to have a windfall of talent.

In this article, I look past the numbers to provide analysis on a few key findings from the study. Rakesh Mistry, a Shrimp Society member and CEO/Founder of RamRak Recruiting, helps provide commentary based on his real-world experience.


Before we dive into the study, let's first understand the organization behind it.



What is Tech Hub South Florida?


Tech Hub South Florida is a nonprofit with the purpose of "fostering a community of technology, innovation, & creativity in South Florida."


The organization - originally called "Palm Beach Tech" - was founded in 2015 with the intention of tackling the challenges of the tech community in Palm Beach county. At the start of 2021, they rebranded to "Tech Hub South Florida" with an emphasis on uniting the tech community across all of South Florida including Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.


Tech Hub South Florida is led by founding CEO Joseph Russo. Joseph is also a co-founder of 1909 - a co-working space, incubator, and entrepreneurial community in West Palm Beach.


Since founding Tech Hub South Florida, Joseph has grown the organization to 200+ corporate sponsors and over 10,000 members. The organization works with local companies to develop talent, innovation opportunities, host events,, Clubhouses, and they even produce a very nice podcast covering South Florida tech & entrepreneurs.


Check out their recently published 2021 Annual Report for more information.


A special shoutout to Monica Rojas, Tech Hub South Florida's Inclusion & Membership specialist. Monica is a recent Shrimp Society member that we're very excited to welcome. A full Shrimp Spotlight is coming soon. 🦐


Alright - we're warmed up. Let's dive into the study.



Tech Talent Study Overview


For the purposes of this study, South Florida includes Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County. The data used in this study came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


BY THE NUMBERS

  • South Florida has over 77,000 employed tech workers

  • Compared to an estimated 214,100 employed "information" workers in the Bay Area - San Francisco, San Jose

  • Compared to an estimated 161,443 "high tech" workers in Austin - Austin

  • South Florida tech workforce is 2.0x more diverse than the U.S. tech industry average

  • This is good comparatively, but poor holistically. There is still much, much work to be done from a REDI perspective.

  • 48.5% White, 28.7% Hispanic/Latino, 13% Black/African American, 9.9% Asian, 1.9% other per the study

  • Employer demand for tech talent exceeds hiring by 4x

  • 12,361 avg. tech job postings compared to 3,066 avg. monthly hires


KEY FINDINGS

  1. There is a huge gender gap - women only represent 22.8% of the tech workforce

  2. Senior tech experience is lacking - 84.2% of the South Florida tech workforce has 6 years or less experience

  3. South Florida tech employment plateaued in 2020 - 0.94% annual growth from 2019 to 2020 compared to an average of 3.10% annual growth over the past 5 years

THE DATA


Tech Hub South Florida partnered with eIMPACT, a platform that provides economic and workforce reports across a variety of use cases. The workforce data came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and used a subset of "tech" occupations based on the C2ER classifications. The team also used social profile data to comb the data to ensure the integrity of the study.


I know exactly what you're about to say...

But, but, but... a "big tech" worker has a very different mindset then a "startup tech" worker. This study doesn't differentiate by company size/stage.

And I would probably agree with you there, but for the sake of "progress not perfection" let's take this study as a very strong foundation of the overall tech workforce.



The Gender Gap


Last week we celebrated International Women's Day as the feature story in The Shrimp newsletter.


This week we're staring at a pretty sobering chart showing women only accounting for 22.8% of the tech workforce in South Florida.


Let's put this into context. Based on a 2018 report, women held 24.61% of all U.S. tech jobs.


This puts Miami behind the national average and nowhere near equal in the workforce.


Rakesh adds:


"In my experience, I've seen many women in leadership positions like CTO, CIO, & CISO in South Florida tech. However, they are often managing teams that are heavily male dominant.


I noticed an uptake in female developers, UI/UX designers, and security engineers over the last few years. I am hopeful this trend will continue to grow as South Florida tech grows."


Organizations like Code/Art are looking to close the workforce gap in generations to come. Code/Art is a local nonprofit that facilitates interested & programs in computer science, coding, and technology for young girls (k-12). The organization has impacted over 6,000 girls and continues to grow.


Other organizations like Women in Miami Tech, Black Girl Ventures, WIN Lab, and Thynk Global help support women in tech here in South Florida.



Lack of Senior Tech Experience


It looks like a common comment thrown around the Miami/South Florida tech community is valid. There is a lack of senior tech experience with 84.2% of the tech workforce having 6 years or less of experience.


A few possible reasons for this:

  • Generational gap that Miami just needs to catch up to

  • Experienced tech talent is getting "poached" to other tech hubs

  • Experienced talent is leaving due to lack of opportunity here and higher salaries in other tech hubs

It would be very interesting to find comparable data for another tech hub. I looked but couldn't find anything. Perhaps this is just a normal distribution of experience?


In Rakesh's experience:


"Having been in Miami for the past 8 years, we have done a good job of growing junior developers through the various coding schools & bootcamps established in South Florida.


However, once these developers gain some junior experience locally, they often move to California or New York seeking the big tech company or join a startup that South Florida could not offer at the time.


Hopefully, with the current Miami Tech movement, this is about to change and we can retain the talent that we have grown. "


My gut feeling is that we will grow into the younger tech talent that was sturred by the growing excitement over the past decade. We are one generation behind.


The main priority of The Shrimp Society is to engage, support, and build a community for that 0-6 year experience tech talent in order to keep that talent growing in South Florida. We hope to impact this data in years to come.



Tech Workforce Plateaus Despite Excitement


From 2014 to 2019, the South Florida tech workforce has experienced an average of 3.10% annual growth.


From 2019 to 2020, that growth rate dropped to 0.94%. This is surprising given all the Twitter excitement, publicity, and big-name implants. But we have to remember that we are only 3 months into this "Miami Movement."


Mayor Suarez's catalytic tweet went out on Dec. 4th, 2020.

It will be very interesting to see the comparative data at the end of 2021.

  • Can this excitement translate to real impact?

  • Will new entrants be able to handle the summer?

  • What happens once Covid is over and other cities start buzzing again?

Perhaps the plataue was due to a lack of capacity? Well, the Tech Talent Report shows that there are 4 times as many tech job postings as positions getting filled.


This is strange because we just saw that so much of the workforce is junior. Most of the open positions are for software developers and QA engineers, not more advanced skills like architects, engineering managers, & specialists.


So the capacity argument doesn't hold up.


I expect we will have a lot more tech workers from non-South Florida companies that migrate to the area for the lifestyle/weather/quality of life. The newly unlocked global workforce adds a level of complexity to the data. If someone works remote for Coinbase (SF company) but lives in Boca Raton, are they considered South Florida tech talent? I guess yes, right?


On the other side of the equation, we may have hot tech companies like Pipe come to South Florida but implement a remote hiring strategy. Then they are a "Miami company" but hire all remote senior developers from SF & Seatle. (That's just an example - Pipe does plan to hire locally)


Rakesh adds:


"We need to take these stats with a pinch of salt due to Covid & more remote teams. I expect this to definitely grow exponentially over the next 12-24 months with all the movement and excitement in Miami Tech.


Companies and startups are choosing to have offices here and build their companies in South Florida. We should see a large increase in the tech workforce.


I have already noticed a large demand for local tech talent whether it be large companies moving tech departments to Miami, startups looking to hire, or companies looking to build a second tech department in South Florida.


The future for Miami Tech is very promising."


While much of the attention is on new, already successful founders/VC/startups transplants from other cities, I believe the most sustainable impact will come from looking within our own backyard to welcome, nurture, and grow South Florida's next generation of tech talent.


That's what we're working on here at The Shrimp Society. 🦐






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