Study: NYC should do more to attract tech workers

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Tech is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries in the city, but New York needs to get better at bringing top talent here, according to a new study.

The Big Apple is behind other cities when it comes to attracting the best engineers, computer experts and other tech whiz kids, said the report by Aon, a human resources consulting firm, and The Partnership for New York City, a business group.

The problem isn't supply -- there are 500 digital startups and counting. Rather, it's environmental factors and the city's lifestyle that are slowing down the influx, the report notes.

The main reason, however, is simple: The cost of living just scares people away, the partnership said.

Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president at NYU's Wasserman Center for Career Development, said too many young professionals decide to take their talents elsewhere because the trade off of having a New York City job is too high with the high price tag that comes with it.

"One of the things with being a young person is you have to devote more of your income to rent. That's just a reality," she said.

Also, the city's traditional office settings are hampering its upgrade to the next Silicon Valley, according to the report, which noted that millennials seek a campus-style workplace. The city's density makes that hard to come by.

Tech company heads agree.

"You have to have that campus space, and you can't do that in a closet in the Flatiron District," said music-streaming app Songza's chief executive Elias Roman.

Roman added that the city is working to remedy the problem by enticing business owners to outer boroughs. He said the Songza staff was impressed with its Long Island City office because it has the space to create a more casual work environment while being close to the city's hot spots.

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The report also said the city isn't doing an adequate job in bringing in international employees. The Partnership noted that the biggest obstacles there are immigration laws. The report recommends that the city and state change license and accreditation laws to make it easier to recruit foreign workers who already received similar accommodations in their homelands.

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