Employers participating in a business alliance that stretches from Baltimore to Richmond, Va., will need to hire more than 135,000 workers — including thousands of “digital tech” workers — over the next five years to fill open jobs, the group said in a report released Wednesday.
About 20,000 of those open jobs will be for positions in 20 occupations with high levels of digital activity, such as software developers and programmers, computer support, database and systems, technology and engineering, and information systems, according to the Greater Washington Partnership, a civic alliance of CEOs of companies that employ more than 175,000 workers in the region.
The partnership, which is working to develop, attract and retain digital technology workers, said it believes the region can emerge as a global leader in the cybersecurity field, which could boost the region’s growth rate by as much as 20 percent. Employers have identified gaps in necessary skills. The business group said some 35,000 digital tech jobs are currently unfilled in the region.
“The competition between regions for tech jobs and the talent to fill them is intense, but we’re starting from a position of strength,” Jason Miller, CEO of the partnership, said in an announcement Wednesday.
He said the region has the third-largest number of digital tech workers compared with other regions in the country. But, Miller said, “We have been losing share, and we risk being eclipsed by other regions taking intentional and deliberate steps to position themselves for future growth.”
The report focuses on five strategies to help attract and retain digital talent, including increasing a pipeline of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, talent in high school and in postsecondary education; creating programs to give graduates practical skills before joining the workforce and spreading a unified regional message showing digital tech leadership.
“Digital technology is now increasingly integrated into a wide range of careers and jobs, spanning all industries, Robin LaChapelle, vice president of human resources at MedImmune, an alliance member, said in the announcement. Biomedical researchers, for instance, need advanced digital skills to help get medicine to patients faster, she said.