Professional Development
Education / Life sciences / Tech jobs / Universities

Campus Philly’s new report details who stays in the region after college graduation

The org's latest retention report shows strength in the life sciences and tech industries, but that the region needs to continue building talent to accommodate its future needs, too.

Center City Philadelphia. (Courtesy Visit Philly/C. Smyth)

Fifty percent of college students graduating from Philly-area institutions stay in the region after graduating, according to Campus Philly’s latest report.

This shows stability for talent retention in the region; a similar report from 2019 put retention at 54%.

The number represents a range of fields, and within that 50% figure is variation: As far as STEM industries go, life sciences have high local retention, and some, such as computer science, don’t.

Campus Philly, an organization focused on attracting, engaging and retaining college students in the Philadelphia region, today released its latest research study, “Philadelphia Momentum: Leveraging College Graduate Retention for Continued Growth in Greater Philadelphia.”

This report specifically highlighted the success of the life sciences, cell and gene therapy, and technology sectors in the region. Campus Philly President Jen Kebea told this report is meant to be a nuanced look at what type of talent the region is producing and what employers are looking for.

Read the report

Regarding the tech sector, Campus Philly chose to focus on 12 highly sought-after tech degree programs based on recommendations from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, which was a partner in completing this report, according to Kebea.

Per the report, Philly is gaining momentum as a tech hub because of its talent pool, lower cost of doing business and proximity to other tech hubs. However, Kebea told that Philly still has room to grow.

Some top-line stats:

  • As of 2021, job postings linked to tech degree programs outweigh program completions by nearly four times.
  • The average location quotient for Philadelphia is 0.97, which indicates a lower-than-average concentration of these jobs in the region compared to the national average.
  • Among 13 similar regions, Greater Philadelphia ranked 12th in terms of the proportion of tech degree completions.
  • There were double the amount of job postings for the life sciences industry as there were people completing relevant programs, as of 2021.

The report suggests the importance of continuing to invest in efforts that support a tech talent pipeline in Philly, including through local universities.

Philadelphia remains among the top 10 markets in the country for the life sciences and cell and gene therapy industries, according to the Campus Philly report (as well as JLL’s annual life science cluster rankings, which just put Philly at #9 for 2023).

The Philadelphia region’s challenge is multifaceted, per the president: Its stakeholders must do more to ensure it has the talent needed to remain competitive in these technical industries, such as by upskilling local workers. The region must also retain more soon-to-be workers who come here for school — especially Gen Z, which is much smaller than previous generations. And it must attract more of the talent needed to grow the economy.

Kebea said this effort will need to be collaborative among higher education institutions, workforce development programs, corporations and city government.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Campus Philly / Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

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