Seattle imports high-tech talent, and Boston exports. So it makes sense that one of the big players in Boston’s competitive higher education market, Northeastern University, would see a new niche opening up across the country, where it can help feed a fast-growing high-tech cluster with more brainpower.
Northeastern, a 114-year-old private institution with 20,500 full-time students, has been working for almost two years to build out a network of regional graduate schools in underserved higher education markets, starting with Charlotte, NC and Seattle. No one would call Boston “underserved” by higher education, as it’s the home of Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Tufts University and more. But in Seattle, where companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others can’t seem to get enough people with advanced degrees in high-tech disciplines, Northeastern has spotted a void it thinks it can fill.
Emphasis added. Importing high-tech talent is a hallmark of the Innovation Economy. Producing that talent defines the Talent Economy. Talent production and superstar faculty are agglomerating. Whereas talent is trickling down the urban hierarchy. From this perspective, the transition looks stark.
Northeastern is jumping ahead to the decline of the Talent Economy, when talent production will diffuse to lower cost markets. I doubt the described business model will work now. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and others need to move where the talent is produced. The labor market is getting thick in places such as East Liberty in Pittsburgh.