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Virginia continues to hold its own as a hub for tech talent and jobs, coming in fourth for overall tech jobs and Artificial Intelligence jobs posted in March. Job postings increased enough from February to land the Commonwealth in the sixth, while it ranks eighth for work-from-home positions.
“While Virginia does not rank among the states with the highest tech industry employment growth rates over the past five years, this is largely due to the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia already has a very large tech industry,” Suzanne Clark, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said. “States that have seen the most spectacular growth in tech industry employment are by and large ones that began with very small tech industries.
Clark said the organization wants to see more economic diversification in the form of more private sector — as opposed to public sector — tech jobs.
“Much of Virginia’s underperformance in tech sector growth is attributable to our over-reliance on the federal government for tech sector jobs,” she said.
Arlington is doing its part to sustain Virginia’s tech job growth, according to Arlington Economic Development. The county’s tech industry is expected to stay ahead of the growth of the tech industry nationwide over the next five years, said Kirby Clark, a spokeswoman for AED.
“Arlington maintains its competitive edge for tech talent with its highly educated workforce, above-average millennial workforce participation, a cluster of higher education institutions and proximity to innovative government agencies,” she said.
Arlington’s tech industry grew by 19.3% from 2015 to 2020, nearly 4% more than the national average. It is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next five years, compared to the expected national growth of 14.7%, the AED spokeswoman said.
Last year, Arlington’s top industries included computer systems services and technical consulting services, sectors she said are poised to continue growing.
Many of the employers with the most job postings in March have headquarters or prominent outposts in Arlington: business and tech consulting group Deloitte has a space in Rosslyn, Amazon is moving into its HQ2 in Pentagon City, consulting group Accenture has three spaces in the county, including a cybersecurity center, while another consulting group, ICF International, has an outpost in Crystal City.
The local Deloitte office is also driving a 361-position increase in AI jobs in Arlington, with its recent announcement that it will launch a new AI research center to advance federal work, Clark said.
“Demand for AI professionals has grown substantially since 2017, when there were 165 total AI jobs posted in Arlington,” she said. “Fast-forward to 2020, there were 1,172 AI jobs posted in Arlington.”
The VEDP spokeswoman said the demand for people with AI skills in Virginia during the past year was more than twice the national average.
Nationwide, thousands of tech jobs are remote opportunities, and Kirby Clark said AED is dedicated to ensuring Arlington remains an attractive place to work from home.
“Many employers intend to adopt a hybrid work model following the pandemic, making Arlington well-positioned to remain a hub for companies by enabling them to offer an attractive home and work environment in a single setting,” Clark said. “Whether working at an office or home, Arlington will continue to provide an outstanding quality of life that attracts people to live here.”
The VEDP spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the organization expects hybrid to be the new norm as well, which could help lift up the state as a whole, not just its large metro areas.
“Capitalizing on tech telework positions is also an important opportunity for rural and small metro regions that might not have been first in line to land tech jobs in the past,” Clark said.
Charts via CompTIA