High educational attainment. STEM-focused programs and industries. The Central Coast talent pool offers the knowledge and skills to meet the demands of an increasingly complex global economy.
The region’s well-educated workforce is fed by top-ranked universities, community colleges that coordinate closely with industry, strong K-12 schools and innovative apprenticeship programs.
Industry clusters across the tech landscape — from established leadership in space/aerospace and advanced manufacturing to emerging areas including AI, agtech and cleantech — contribute to a strong talent base and communities of practice.
STEM graduates produced each year
Patents per 100,000 residents
of residents have at least some college
of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, outpacing the state and nation
“This is a wonderful place to live, and easy to recruit top talent to move to this area. There’s already a really good workforce for remote sensing instrument development here in the area, plus a pretty good funding and VC environment to enable startups.”
“It was important for us to remain in the Central Coast region, which has nurtured our rapid growth with the best technical talent pool we could hope to find.”
“None of our companies would exist in the way that we do but for the talent pool. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve committed so significantly to growing in California, that immense amount of talent.”
“UCSB breeds innovation in a way that inspires people to disrupt several industries. So, too, does Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.”
“There’s such great talent here. It’s why I moved to Santa Barbara in the first place.”
University of California-Santa Barbara
The #5 public university in the nation, UCSB is a research-intensive R1 institution. A global leader in the sciences, it has produced six Nobel Laureates and hosts 10 national institutes and centers. Nearly 100 companies have been established based on technology developed or discovered at UCSB, with an average of four to six new ones each year.
One of 10 University of California campuses, UCSB offers 90+ undergraduate majors and 50+ graduate programs.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
An engineering powerhouse, Cal Poly has reigned as the best public master’s-level university in the Western U.S. for 29 years straight. Its hands-on Learn by Doing ethos produces graduates who are highly sought after by top companies and provides opportunities to partner with industry and spur innovation.
Part of the 23-campus California State University system, Cal Poly offers 60+ majors across six colleges, with other top-ranked programs including architecture, agriculture and renewable resources, as well as 22 centers and institutes.
Pioneers of modern apprenticeships, SLO Partners connects businesses with local talent trained with in-demand skills. The nonprofit has arranged more than 150 apprenticeships with 63 employers spanning:
- Software Development
- Precision Manufacturing
- IT Networking
- Digital Marketing
- Early Childhood Education
Allan Hancock College
With more than 100 degrees and certifications, Hancock is ranked among the top 5 community colleges in California and the top 120 nationwide, with additional recognition for its career technical education programs.
Offering 84 associate degrees and 141 certification programs, Cuesta also features the Institute for Professional Development, providing customized training for businesses and organizations across San Luis Obispo County.
Santa Barbara City College
One of the oldest community colleges in California, SBCC has earned the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, among other awards. Its extensive offerings include the College for Working Adults to help employees boost their skills.