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Observing New York Startups: Job Growth & the Innovation Economy Skills Gap

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There's no getting around it -- the growing surge of energy in the New York tech community has been electric.

From the increase in venture monies invested, startup acquisitions, and new companies being founded, New York is certainly positioned as a catalyst in our nation's innovation economy. What's even more impressive is the strides the city government has made to support, promote, and align itself with the grassroots efforts startups have made to bolster economic growth. Mayor Bloomberg's We Are Made In NY program represents both a civic movement and an effort in entrepreneurialism. In observing the mix of effort and impact, what knowledge can be applied nationwide about job creation in the fastest growing sector of our American economy?

The rise in jobs created in New York City is palpable, an impressive 30 percent from 2005 to 2010. The demand for technical hires is seemingly insatiable and appearance of the "banker turned business developer" archetype tends to pop up all across the startup landscape. Yet it's hard to believe this level of success is sufficient to compensate for the current state of unemployment and underemployment en masse.

There is a skills gap between those incubated from the recession and those ravaged by it. Not to be mistaken for an education gap, possessing a college or even master's degree often doesn't equate to being hirable in today's economy. What you know, more importantly, what you can do will continue to be the difference maker in who gets to take part the most innovative and additive areas of our workforce.

New York, among others, has begun to create educational entry points for individuals to make headway into the world of startups. Often this takes the shape of acquiring or sharing a skill. Skillshare, Flatiron School, General Assembly, Lean Startup Machine and Codecademy all represent the future of education in one form or another. At the same time, with over 900 NYC startups looking to expand their teams with growth-minded individuals, there is an opportunity for more to be done.

Especially around ushering the creative, ambitious, intelligent, and hard-working lot into the tech community -- a population for which New York is known for having a surplus. The current needs of the best and brightest startups require it -- from tumblr, 4sq, Crowdtap, RebelMouse, 10gen, Appnexus, Fab, Kickstarter, Meetup, Quirky, Warby Parker and so many more.

This challenge also represents a new wave of opportunity. The sea between those individuals seeking startup opportunities and those companies seeking qualified employees runs deep. However, outcome-based education focused on the needs of the new economy can bridge the divide. This type of knowledge acquisition that feeds directly into the growth engine of companies and therefore economies can be truly meaningful for local ecosystems like New York and the national workforce as a whole.