Talent Pool

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

What People Are Saying

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.

4 college students sitting around computes smiling

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.

Woman holding a senior sign in a green graduation cap and gown

SLO Partners

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
  • Cybersecurity
  • Precision Manufacturing
  • IT Networking
  • Healthcare
  • Digital Marketing
  • Early Childhood Education
three men working on a bridge prototype
Allan Hancock college students walking at graduation

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.

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Two Cuesta College students talking with their professor during class

Cuesta College

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.

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Three college students looking at a laptop screen and smiling

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.

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Explore the region’s higher education institutions and programs