Professional and Technical Services

Definition and Overview: Professional and Technical Services encompasses a wide array of white-collar employment including legal services, accounting and tax preparation, architecture and engineering, computer systems design, and advertising and public relations among other business services. Greater Manhattan affords Professional and Technical Services companies with one key competitive advantage: a steady stream of talent. In a world in which talent is increasingly mobile, K-State is a significant asset to prospective and current Professional and Technical Services firms seeking a qualified, diverse workforce. Moreover, the K-State Business Park further reduces barriers to entry by providing scalable Class A office space to suit company needs. Targeting Professional and Technical Services reinforces the Knowledge Based Economic Development (KBED) partnership’s efforts to increase the number of high-paying jobs regionally tied to strengths of Kansas State University. These professional positions also provide quality entry-level employment for graduates of business and liberal arts programs. Markets with this capacity have greater success attracting and retaining young talent. Strategies to grow this target mostly focus on small business development and entrepreneurship. The presence of major anchors such as K-State, Fort Riley, and NBAF afford many opportunities to source Professional and Technical Services locally.

Company Composition: Professional and Technical Services companies operating in Greater Manhattan region include Garmin, U.S. Engineering, Brink’s Security, Imagemakers, CivicPlus, Redi Systems, New Boston Creative Group, BBN Architects, and Keating & Associates among many others.

Market Segments: Three market segments emerged as areas of particular strength for Greater Manhattan. Engineering services cover a diverse range of engineering consulting activity, including architecture services. Computer systems design firms provide planning and design services which integrate computer hardware, software, and communication technologies. Finally, professional and scientific consulting encompasses private sector research and development, accounting, advertising, and public relations activity in the region.

Site Considerations: Office space quality and cost is a primary location consideration for Professional and Technical Services companies. These firms also require access to quality fiber optic infrastructure, steady and reliable power supply, and redundant capacity in both areas. As firms attempt to attract millennials and next generation workers, site considerations may also include amenities such as a 24/7 gym, shower and changing facilities, and event spaces to host community gatherings. Tax structure, executive housing, school quality, and labor costs are also factors that may influence prospects’ site location decisions. With new office developments on the boards and with the KSU Foundation plans on the north campus, there is significant space available.

National Trends: Professional and Technical Services businesses are increasingly becoming socially conscious. Technology companies like Google and Facebook have crafted hiring practices to diversify their workforces while other companies have adopted “green” practices to support environmental sustainability. What these practices all have in common is that they enhance the company’s attractiveness to tomorrow’s talent pool. In a recent survey of corporate executives, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 78 percent of US CEOs felt that a skilled, educated, and adaptable workforce should be a priority for businesses. Workforce diversity and sustainability is also changing the nature of the office environment. Open floor plans, “hoteling,” and telecommuting are shrinking physical footprints of many corporate offices and, consequently, increasing the importance of fiber connectivity and information technology infrastructure. Nationally, Professional and Technical Services sector is expected to grow by 15.1 percent over the next decade, according to Economic Modeling Specialists Intl.

REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT TRENDS

Greater Manhattan’s Professional and Technical Services sector is currently underdeveloped relative to the average community nationwide. Institutional support could be the linchpin to mature the Professional and Technical Services sector regionally. Many communities across the United States have supported “buy local” initiatives that strengthen relationships between institutional buyers and local firms operating in their community. Leveraging institutional Professional and Technical Services spending could help spur greater economic dynamism regionally and lead to a more advanced target sector in the future.

Employment projections provided by EMSI find that the Manhattan Area’s Professional and Technical Services sector could return to growth over the next decade (2016-2026).Target sector employment is expected to increase by 580 jobs over the coming ten-year period, a gain of 18.9 percent. Nationally, employment in the sector is expected to increase by 15.1 percent.

OCCUPATIONAL TRENDS

Professional and Technical Services workers are among the nation’s most highly mobile talent. These in demand professionals have great flexibility in deciding where they want to live and the environment in which they work. Nationally, approximately 5.3 million professional and technical service workers will retire over the next ten years. The significant outflow of Baby Boomers at the national level will undoubtedly cause companies to seek proactive solutions to address pending talent shortages. As a result, the Manhattan Area’s quality of life and K-State’s graduate output could be seen as attractive assets for companies in this space.

Currently, occupations supportive of Professional and Technical Services in Greater Manhattan comprise 14 percent of the workforce, or 10,269 positions. As with the sector’s employment, occupational growth trends have notably trailed the U.S. in the previous ten-year period.

Strong growth among certain Professional and Technical Services occupations could lead to increased regional information technology capacity. Computer and information systems managers (16.0 percent), computer and information analysts (13.0 percent), and software developers and programmers (24.1 percent) grew at a rapid clip over the last ten years in Greater Manhattan.