GO Virginia earmarks funding for SW Va. tech talent program
United Way of Southwest Virginia's Ignite Technology Talent development program will prepare students for tech careers
The GO Virginia Region 1 Council, which covers Southwest Virginia, announced Thursday it has recommended $1.38 million in funding for the United Way of Southwest Virginia to create a technology talent development program.
As more tech companies enter the Virginia market during the next decade, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 IT jobs in Virginia will be unfilled, according to Region 1’s data review and data from Richmond-based research firm Chmura Economics & Analytics JobsEQ. In Region 1 specifically, there will be a demand for more than 1,300 workers. And it’s expected that the IT industry in Virginia will grow 9.3% by 2024, compared to the national expectation of 6.5%, according to the Virginia Employment Commission Virginia Job Outlook.
The Ignite Technology Talent development program would work to funnel students into information technology careers in Southwest Virginia. As part of the program, middle schoolers would participate in career exploration and career planning in the IT sector. Then, high school students would take technology courses and dual enrollment classes with community college partners including Mountain Empire Community College and Virginia Highlands Community College.
The partnership would span across K-12 schools, community colleges, colleges and employers in Southwest Virginia.
“The partner collaboration on this technology initiative is unparalleled in our region,” Melinda Leland, director of youth success at United Way of Southwest Virginia, said in a statement. “The strong commitment to providing the workforce needed to support existing economic development initiatives focused on attracting technology sector employers is vitally important to the long-term success of our region and the commonwealth.”
The funding is contingent on the FY21 per capita allocation from the state’s GO Virginia economic development initiative. Half of the funds are expected to be awarded in the near future, with the other half funded after Region 1 receives its FY21 per capital allocation.
The GO Virginia Board will consider the funding in June, and it’s expected that partners will contribute an additional $1.43 million to the program.
Partners for the project thus far include:
- The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
- Mountain Empire Community College
- Virginia Highlands Community College
- Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center
- New River Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board
- MajorClarity LLC
- Region 7 Superintendents Association
- Bland County Schools
- Bristol City Public Schools
- Buchanan County Schools
- Carroll County Schools
- Dickenson County Schools
- Galax City Schools
- Grayson County Schools
- Lee County Schools
- Norton City Schools
- Russell County Schools
- Scott County Schools
- Smyth County Schools
- Tazewell County Schools
- Washington County Schools
- Wise County Schools
- Wythe County Schools