A Talent Show: Central Virginia’s Workforce Comes Out on Top
Schools and businesses work to attract and retain top employees in the Central Virginia region.
An enviable quality of life, economic diversity and access to top-rated colleges and universities help lure new businesses and talent to Central Virginia. Young professionals and college graduates can find high-paying employment with competitive benefits in a number of growing industries, like business and financial services or defense and cybersecurity.
For example, Equinix, a global digital infrastructure company, operates four data centers in Culpeper County and is the core of the region’s data-center market. The company’s career pathways program works to recruit and retain talent from underrepresented communities. The company also welcomes veterans, candidates usually without high-tech experience but with transferable skills, and candidates returning to the workforce after a long absence.
“Central Virginia is a great place to live and raise a family. It’s centrally located with easy access to big cities on the East Coast, but there are also plenty of recreational activities right here like mountain biking and hiking.”
Andrew Mavraganis, Spire Collective
The Right Address
S&P Global Market Intelligence attracts top talent with benefits such as 24/7 mental health support, flexible hours, a diverse and inclusive work culture, and tuition reimbursement. In addition, the company’s EssentialTECH program allows employees to grow their automation, blockchain and cybersecurity skills. In addition to attractive employee perks, Central Virginia companies benefit from the region’s amenable location for recruiting and retaining talent.
“[Central Virginia] is a great place to live and raise a family. It’s centrally located with easy access to big cities on the East Coast, but there are also plenty of recreational activities right here, like mountain biking and hiking. You can even be at the beach in a few hours,” says Andrew Mavraganis, chief financial officer at Spire Collective, an e-commerce company with offices in Troy. “So, there will always be a qualified workforce to draw from, from new graduates to people moving to the area. There are always people looking for internships or summer positions, and for a small company like ours, it really helps with workforce development.”
Germanna Community College in Culpeper also contributes to growing the workforce for the region’s high-demand industries. For example, the Daniel Technology Center offers a cybersecurity program that helps feed talent into the defense and security pipelines.
“We offer several courses that are required in the various curriculums and that align with certifications that are required by the Department of Defense and for many other government jobs,” says Clayton Calvert, assistant professor of cybersecurity at Germanna Community College. “We prepare students for the Network+ certification and the Security+ exam. These are required for the high-demand DOD jobs.”
Calvert says the program, which is rated a National Security Agency Academic Center of Excellence, was started to meet the growing demand for skilled workers not only in Central Virginia but across the country.
“There are more than 700,000 open cybersecurity jobs in the United States, and there are over 60,000 in Virginia alone. Plus, there are about 54 different job categories within cybersecurity. You can’t get through a week without reading about some company getting hacked. The bad guys are even targeting schools and hospitals and infrastructure,” Calvert says. “It’s very clear that cybersecurity is one of the hottest jobs needed anywhere in the country and around the world.”
The college connects students to these jobs through a full-service career center, which offers resume reviews, mock interviews, and access to internships and apprenticeships.
“They reach out to organizations and companies who might be looking for interns and work to pair them up with students who have the skills to succeed at that company,” Calvert says. “One of the optional courses that can be used for graduation requirements in the cybersecurity program is an internship. That is one of the best ways to get students hired locally.
“Companies like Amazon have hired our students as interns, and then if they do a good job, they basically guarantee them a full-time position,” he adds. “As a college, our job is to develop new students who can fill roles that are needed in the community.
If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia.