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Don’t sleep on D.C.’s tech talent pipeline.
This month, New York-based consulting firm McKinsey & Company published its report on the D.C. area’s tech talent pipeline compared to other major tech hubs in the U.S. In the report, the consulting firm refers to the D.C. area as “the Capital Region,” which encompasses Baltimore, Richmond, Virginia, D.C. and Northern Virginia.
From its findings, McKinsey ranked the D.C. area third in the nation for its share of tech workers who graduated between 2014 and 2018. San Francisco and New York topped the list, while LA, Philadelphia and Atlanta ranked lower than the D.C. area. One of the reasons the region enhanced its tech talent pipeline is because of Amazon’s HQ2 move into Northern Virginia. The announcement came over a year ago, and surrounding companies and universities didn’t waste any time getting ready for the ecommerce giant to move in.
Few metropolitan areas understand the dynamic tech-talent ecosystem—including skills, diversity, and mobility—and how to take coordinated action to move the needle. https://t.co/uLDQkjwfBr
— McKinsey & Company (@McKinsey) December 11, 2019
The report also found that even though tech workers who graduate in this region relocate to other tech hubs, the D.C. area attracts just as many technologists from those tech markets. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco attract a high level of tech workers while those like Chicago and Philly attract less because of fewer local opportunities, even though they produce a high level of graduates. Overall, D.C. ranked third for retaining its tech graduates between 2014 and 2018 at 58%.
As far as tech skills, the D.C. area topped the ranking with 12% of the tech workforce here possessing information security capabilities, including cybersecurity, network security and computer security. However, the region fell in rankings for artificial intelligence capabilities, with only 4% of the tech workforce possession knowledge in this area.
“Google [based in Silicon Valley] made several large AI acquisitions well before topics like deep learning became part of the mainstream dialogue,” Nora Gardner, a senior partner in McKinsey’s D.C. office, told Technical.ly. “That head start created challenges for other regions, as ‘getting there first’ has the potential to snowball into a longer-term advantage. To catch up, D.C. can think through how to incorporate AI training as a common standard in STEM curriculums.”
In the report, the D.C. area beat out all other tech markets in the diversity and inclusion category, and specifically in D.C. proper, we reported earlier this year that the District holds the #1 spot for women in tech to work.
What can other tech hubs learn from D.C.’s tech talent pipeline?
“Collaborations among business, academia and public sector through convening organizations like the Greater Washington Partnership and the CoLAB can really enhance the speed and specificity of shared insights between what employers need and what graduates can provide,” Gardner said, “and this builds the ecosystem for talent and employment.”
Here are more three tips McKinsey shared for other regions looking to learn from the D.C. area’s tech talent pipeline:
- Align talent strategy with economic vision
- Adopt a data-driven approach to assess tech talent imbalances
- Spur collaboration across academia and the public and private sectors
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