How Virginia is Closing the IT Skills Gap

May 19, 2016


Virginia begins to rebuild its workforce through the Talent Pipeline Management initiative.

There was once a time when Information Technology (IT) recruiters in Virginia could post job listings and receive abundant responses from well-qualified candidates. Throughout the last few years, however, drastic changes have plagued this industry and many others. Tonia Pratt, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at ICF International, reminisces on the halcyon days of IT recruiting, noting that today “you'll be doing well if you get two or three applications, and in most cases 75% of these are unqualified.” If the inability to fill this workforce pipeline continues, these companies may go to other states and harm Virginia’s economy.

Virginia recognizes that taking a proactive approach to developing a scalable and replicable workforce delivery model will pay dividends in the future. While Virginia understands the innovative solutions that a demand-driven model will bring to the Commonwealth, they must first build a foundation in partnership with the business community.

Participating in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) initiative has given Virginia a framework to rebuild its entire workforce system, allowing companies like Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to harness public-private relationships and match skill sets to unfilled jobs. Virginia is developing a new talent pipeline approach that allows employers to better utilize state government, the workforce system, and the public education system to meet its talent needs.

Virginia is focusing on meeting employers’ needs for a skilled IT workforce beginning with the Northern Virginia region. The team is focusing on organizing key IT companies into an employer collaborative and using their insights to perform a demand planning exercise. This way, the IT sector will have a much clearer understanding of its short- and long-term hiring needs. To accompany the demand planning work, Virginia is also focusing on setting up a talent flow analysis as well as determining common competencies and credentials for Virginia’s IT sector.

By demonstrating success in a pilot program which shows both short- and long-term value for the state and employers, Virginia can empower current and future administrations to build a sustainable pipeline of qualified talent for the Commonwealth.