Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Talent Equation

Would your city like to become the next Silicon Alley? Brad Hargreaves has all the answers and it concerns talent. Step #2 is to plug the brain drain:

Next, cities must work to keep that homegrown talent from flocking to cities such as New York, San Francisco or Boston. Students are an investment, and brain drain can ruin that investment. One suggestion from Hargreaves is to focus on training people in their 30s and 40s to become coders. They, says Hargreaves, are more likely to have laid down geographic roots, and therefore less likely to move away.

“When I was in New Haven, I worked with Yale and they were trying to build out a tech ecosystem in New Haven,” Hargreaves told Mashable. “They’d train these college aged kids that would go off and work in New York or Boston. One of the ways around that is by training people a little more locked-in to the geography.”

I'll give Hargreaves some points for focusing on a less geographically mobile demographic. Unfortunately, training will make any person a little less locked-in to the geography. Bummer.

Hargreaves is framing talent migration as a zero-sum game. If he's spent any time in Silicon Valley, then he should know better. Rooting human capital in place is bad for innovation. Hargreaves is giving bad advice.

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