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Virginia’s Tech Talent Investment Program

Our thanks go out to Dr. Mutlu, Professor of IT at WUST, for proposing the focus of this week's discussion.

Virginia's Technical Talent Investment Program is a leading initiative in the computer science field, and it aims to significantly expand the technical workforce in Virginia.

Northern Virginia is ideally positioned to catalyze growth in the tech industry with a high concentration of a well-educated and skilled workforce, world-class universities, and unparalleled digital infrastructure. Decades of technological accomplishments have been another contributor to why the state was specifically designated to receive the investment fund by the Virginia Commonwealth.

The State Treasurer has created an innovative and irrevocable fund, referred to as the IT Talent Investing Fund, that is dedicated to fostering IT education and facilitating the path to entrepreneurship. This fund has amassed a total of over $2 billion, which constitutes the most substantial government investment in this domain.

The Fund will be used to support qualified institutions' initiatives to increase the number of degrees awarded by the fiscal year 2039 by at least 25,000 more degrees than was granted in 2018, thus providing an incentive to pursue IT careers. Unlike many other forms of investments that are impacted by the fluctuations of the economy and interest rates, investments in the technology industry remain stable which makes Virginia Tech Talent Investment a safer bet with significant long-term returns.

Victor Hoskins, President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and Chair of the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance, conveyed his enthusiastic endorsement of the investment program in an E-bird Newsletter feature article titled "Next Silicon Valley?". He underscored the Virginia region's potential to emerge as a preeminent technology and innovation hub, pointing out that there are 17,000 tech companies in Northern Virginia and a data center capacity five times that of Silicon Valley.

Hoskins sees Virginia as a significant hub of corporate operations, given its impressive number of over 800 headquarters across diverse industries, thereby earning it a sixth-place national ranking. Fairfax County, in particular, boasts two-thirds of the 17 companies established in the Washington, D.C. region, a feat that secured its position as the 6th-highest number of Fortune 500 and 8th-largest Fortune 1000 company headquarters in the United States in 2022, as reported by Expansion Solutions Magazine. Six companies based in Fairfax County have made it to the Fortune 1000 list.

To bolster the local economy, Fairfax County has adopted an expansion strategy that caters to the needs of various business owners in Northern Virginia, including those from local and international backgrounds. The Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance (NOVA EDA), a bilateral agreement signed in 2019 with plans for extensive reform, seeks to promote interregional collaboration.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, FCEDA, operates business investment offices in six international business hubs, including Tysons, the major business district in Fairfax County, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Tel Aviv.

The University of Virginia Tech aims to double the number of BS and MS computer science graduates with the Talent Investing Program that they are offering. Study Areas for Degrees Eligible for Program Funds:

  1. Computer science

  2. Computer engineering

  3. Engineering computer software

Over 30,000 graduates from this program will have been offered classes in :

  • Statewide community college Tech-Talent Education

  • Strengthening the K-12 TechTalent Pipeline

  • Statewide Statewide Bachelor’s-Level CS Education

  • Master’s-Level CS Education in Northern Virginia

  • Tech Internship Program for Higher Education Students

George Mason University will fund this program with $250 million to support and increase the differentiation of Virginia technology talent investment programs, particularly the Arlington campus.

Microsoft has recently announced a workforce reduction of 10,000 employees in line with other technology corporations, such as Meta, Amazon, Google, and Cisco, that have undergone significant downsizing. In the next economic cycle there will be many positions to be filled and Virginia aims to have the trained manpower ready to deploy.

As early as 2019, then Virginia Governor Northam said that despite Amazon's impact on investment, Virginia needed more computer workers. Individual contracts between the schools and the state called for a certain number of graduates in computer science. The Virginia Technology Investment Program has far-reaching implications. Virginia recognizes the long term impact of this investment in the establishment of the state as a tech brain trust and is committed to funding this program in all economic conditions.


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