Virginia's Tech Talent Pipeline Poised for Growth
The region's tech talent infrastructure continues to gain steam as a series of major announcements set the stage for an exciting future for tech talent growth. Companies in Arlington are well-positioned to reap long-term benefits from these investments over the coming years, as Arlington and Virginia invest billions into the workforce pipeline for a tech talent market that already ranks #2 in the United States, per CBRE.
On May 4, 2021, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus announced its first foundational partner, with Arlington-based Boeing making a $50 million multi-year commitment to jumpstart the University's efforts to create the most diverse graduate technology campus in the United States. Per a University press release, "Boeing's commitment will provide student scholarships, foster the recruitment of world-class faculty and researchers, and fund STEM pathways programs for underserved K-12 students looking to pursue a college degree and enter high-tech career sectors." The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will anchor a 65-acre innovation district in neighboring Alexandria. The Innovation Campus is part of the Commonwealth of Virginia's commitment to creating 31,000 new computer science and computer engineering graduates over 20 years through the Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP).
George Mason University, the other major partner in the TTIP, began demolition of the old Kann's department store building on the site of the future 365,000 square foot building that will house the expanded Institute of Digital Innovation (IDIA) and the new School of Computing. Construction is slated to begin in spring 2022, and the expanded campus will be a "digital innovation research hub for learners, educators, entrepreneurs, innovators, and industry partners" per a George Mason University release.
While the state's 11 university partners in the TTIP made progress in expanding the state's pool of high-tech workforce, Virginia also made a major announcement to boost the early stages of the tech talent pipeline. In March, Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation creating the "Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back (G3)" program, making community college tuition-free for low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields. "The program provides $36 million to cover tuition, fees, and books and provide wraparound support for eligible students at the Commonwealth's two-year public institutions." The Governor's tuition-free community college initiative targets key industries including health care, information technology, and computer science, manufacturing and skilled trades, public safety, and early childhood education.
As companies around the country struggle to attract high-demand, highly-skilled tech workers, companies in Arlington and around the Commonwealth of Virginia will start to see the effects of massive investments into the tech talent workforce at every level. While the pandemic might create new paradigms for operations, there is no doubt that companies in Arlington and Virginia will be well-positioned to tap into an expanding and diversified tech talent pipeline in the years to come.