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Getting The Jobs Done

The Oceanside office of HireAHelper LLC is not quite polished yet. The business is an online marketplace that connects two parties — people in the process of moving a house or office, and laborers who can maneuver their belongings into a rental truck.

Things are a little dark and empty at HireAHelper because the company itself is in the process of moving from an office on Oceanside Boulevard to new quarters on Vista Way. The reason for the move? The company is growing.

HireAHelper employs software developers and is an example of the growing software development cluster in San Diego County. It has three in-house software developers, one contractor and is planning to hire another software developer this year.

The Study

A new study produced by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. said software development — the process of writing computer programs — has a $6.9 billion impact on the county.

Jobs directly related to software influence the broader San Diego economy through ripple effects. Study authors estimate that the total economic impact of the software cluster — counting direct and induced jobs — is $12.2 billion.

Some 21,600 software developers work in San Diego County; an additional 19,600 employees support those developers or have related jobs. Study authors concluded that more than 100,000 jobs are impacted by software development, either directly or through multiplier effects.

Job growth in the software development field will be 18.1 percent over the next 12 months, study authors assert. The study was underwritten by Hired.com and sponsored by TVC Capital and Benefits Tech Trust. CBRE provided research.

SaaS Talent

Among other things, the study looks at the variety of software companies in the county. The specialty with the most talent is SaaS, or software as a service, with 9,940 employees. Software as a service is software that resides at the other end of an Internet connection, rather than on a company’s in-house computer server. Customers buy it by subscription. San Diego companies working in that space include EdgeWave, ESET, Intuit, Mitchell and MindTouch.

The study also compares the region to other strong software-writing regions in the United States, using a “software power index” that considers the concentration of software developers, talent, prosperity, capital and other factors.

After crunching the numbers, study authors ranked San Diego as the No. 7 software city in the U.S., behind Baltimore and ahead of Austin, Texas. San Jose occupied the top spot, Seattle was second and San Francisco third. Study authors reviewed the 50 top metro areas in the U.S.

San Diego software products might not have as much of a consumer focus as those from other cities, study authors noted, saying San Diego products often have a scientific bent. Some of the software contributes to San Diego’s renowned life sciences cluster.

Many of San Diego’s breakthrough technologies including unmanned systems “start with software,” Mark Cafferty, CEO of the Economic Development Corp., said at an event unveiling the study.

Study authors said that San Diego software developers were twice as likely to work in scientific research and development than their counterparts elsewhere in California.

What Language?

Software development, of course, is not all the same; developers work in various languages which are appropriate for a variety of tasks. Languages come and go out of fashion, and some people spend five figures on crash courses (aka boot camps) to learn a specific language with the hope it will land them lucrative jobs.

So what do San Diego employers want today?

The EDC study found that the programming languages employers sought most were structured query language or SQL as well as similar languages for databases. Fifty percent of poll respondents consider them very important and an additional 27.7 percent call them somewhat important.

JavaScript ranked second on the list of eight languages; versions of the programming language that goes by the simple name of Cranked third.

The least desirable language to San Diego employers — at least according to the survey — was the Ruby on Rails language suitable for developing web applications on smartphones and tablets. Shopify, Airbnb, Twitch and Hulu use it. Some 5.6 percent of survey respondents called it very important, 31.5 percent called it somewhat important, and 62.9 percent said it was not at all important.

Fifty-seven respondents answered questions about software language preferences, according to BW Research, which conducted the poll.

Not all San Diego County firms approached participated fully in the study.

“In general, [San Diego County] firms in software industries or more specifically those businesses directly engaged in software development are tough to connect with and tend to be relatively secretive regarding talent, financing and larger regional economic development issues,” BW Research said in an appendix to the study.

Civic leaders took the wraps off of the new study March 29 at the new offices of Underground Elephant on downtown’s J Street — a space near Petco Park that creatively blurs the line between indoor and outdoor. That digital marketing business is also hiring software developers.

Among those speaking was Andrew Gazdecki, CEO of the startup Bizness Apps, which just moved from San Francisco to downtown La Jolla. In a statement from March, company leaders said they thought they stood a better chance of hiring and retaining talent in the San Diego market.

Gazdecki was 20 minutes late to the media event, but he said that San Diego stood head and shoulders above San Francisco.

There, he said, he probably would have been an hour late.

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