Virginia tech talent initiative fueled by Amazon need

November 14, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

Students and tech employers stand to benefit from a new initiative in Virginia that grew out of the Commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Northern Virginia. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will invest in their tech talent pipeline to produce 31,000 new computer science graduates over 20 years.

Agreements have been signed with 11 universities who have pledged to exceed the legislative goal of at least 25,000 more bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and related fields over the next 20 years. The first year of state funding for the initiative ($16 million) was provided in the budget approved earlier this year and is expected to total $1.1 billion over the 20-year period. The agreements are all performance based and if the schools do not meet their goals, the funding will be restricted. The agreements and funding are to increase the degrees granted over the number of such degrees that would be conferred by the institutions if they were to continue at the same rate of granting degrees in those areas as they did in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

The state is experiencing a boom in tech industries according to the governor’s press release, which has increased demand for workers, and the Tech Talent program is designed to help Virginia keep pace with the demand for workers. Colleges and universities applied to the state for funding to expand their existing computer degree programs and subsequent agreements will be established with other institutions, including community colleges.

The 11 institutions receiving funds in this round and the degrees they have committed to produce are:

  • Virginia Tech: 5,911 bachelor’s degrees, 10,324 master’s degrees
  • George Mason University: 2,277 bachelor’s degrees, 5,328 master’s degrees
  • The University of Virginia: 3,416 bachelor’s degrees
  • William & Mary: 930 bachelor’s degrees
  • Old Dominion University: 765 bachelor’s degrees
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: 722 bachelor’s degrees
  • James Madison University: 467 bachelor’s degrees
  • Radford University: 394 bachelor’s degrees
  • Christopher Newport University: 392 bachelor’s degrees
  • Virginia State University: 186 bachelor’s degrees
  • Norfolk State University: 126 bachelor’s degrees
Virginiaworkforce, higher ed, funding