Goal: Expand and enhance Virginia’s high-quality and highly skilled workforce.
Talent pipeline indicators measure the state’s success at attracting, retaining, and producing human capital and the state’s current availability of highly skilled workers. A skilled workforce is associated with higher productivity and is one of the most important inputs for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. Talent pipeline indicators show trends for various educational levels, beginning with programs for primary school students and continuing through graduate school. They also examine degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and entrepreneurship training outputs.
Enrollment in Virginia’s FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) program, which is designed to stimulate primary and secondary school interest in science and technology decreased slightly from the year before. The number of degrees awarded in STEM fields at the postsecondary level has also steadily increased, although Associate’s degree awards decreased slightly in 2013 and 2014. Interstate migration provided a net inflow of college-educated adults from 2009 to 2011 and in 2013 but a net outflow in 2012 and 2014. Virginia continues to perform at or near the top among U.S. states in terms of college attainment rates and the percentage of its workforce in science and engineering occupations. Post-secondary entrepreneurial experience opportunities are also expanding. Most Virginia universities now offer either formal degree programs or concentrations in entrepreneurship as well as entrepreneurship centers and experiential learning programs.
Why is the talent pipeline important?
An educated workforce is more productive, thereby improving economic growth and wages. It is also more adaptive, open to new ideas, and entrepreneurial. In order to further improve the skills of its workforce, the state must train, retain, and attract skilled workers. Demand for skilled workers is high and expected to increase rapidly in the future, especially for workers in STEM occupations. Virginia’s K-12 and public higher education institutions will play a key role in satisfying this demand. Higher education institutions are also providing more and varied entrepreneurship education and experience opportunities, which will help ensure that the Commonwealth has an expanding pool of potential entrepreneurs with the skills and experience needed to create startups and introduce new products and services. The state’s impressively high percentage of STEM-prepared workers provides a key competitive advantage for future economic growth in high-tech industries.
How has Virginia performed over the last five years?
FIRST is a non-profit organization that offers programs to stimulate primary and secondary school student interest in STEM education and career opportunities. Four FIRST programs are offered in Virginia: grades K-3 (Junior FIRST Lego League or Jr. FLL), grades 4-8 (FIRST Lego League or FLL), grades 7-12 (FIRST Tech Challenge or FTC), and grades 9-12 (FIRST Robotics Competition or FRC). Total FIRST participation in Virginia has increased from 2011 to 2014 but decreased slightly in 2015. In 2011, an estimated 7,597 students participated in FIRST programs. This steadily increased to 9,656 students in 2014 before decreasing to 9,496 in 2015. Participation rate increases over the 2011-2015 period were highest in FTC, which increased from 459 in 2011 to 1,530 in 2015, a 229% rate of increase. FRC increased 11%, from 1,700 in 2011 to 1,875 in 2015. Participation in FLL increased from 4,376 in 2011 to 4,981 in 2015, a rate of increase of 17%. Although Jr. FLL increased over this time period as well, from 1,062 in 2011 to 1,110 in 2015 for a 6% increase, its highest participation year was attained in 2012 with 1,230 students.
High-technology and innovative enterprises have a large and growing demand for workers with STEM degrees. The number of STEM degrees produced by state institutions of higher learning provides a measure of how well they are helping to meet this demand. The number of STEM degrees awarded by Virginia public, private non-profit, and private for-profit colleges and universities has generally increased over the last five years. Associate’s degrees awarded increased from 3,661 in 2010 to 4,489 in 2012, but eased to 4,149 in 2014. Bachelor’s, graduate, and professional degrees increased from 12,160 in 2010 to 15,747 in 2014.
On a population-adjusted basis Virginia awarded 50 Associate’s degrees in STEM fields per 100,000 residents in 2014. This rate compares to 36 per 100,000 residents nationwide. Virginia’s rate was sixth highest in the nation and was higher than all benchmark states except for California. The nation’s highest percentage was in Arizona with 114 degrees per 100,000 residents. Virginia awarded 189 STEM field Bachelor’s and higher degrees per 100,000 residents, ranking it 19th highest among states in the nation. This rate compared to a national average of 171 degrees per 100,000 population in 2014. Massachusetts was the leading state with 317 degrees per 100,000 residents. Among benchmark states, Virginia was lower than Massachusetts, Maryland (239), and Pennsylvania (238).
Knowledge Worker Migration
Virginia has benefitted from a net influx of college-educated adults from across the nation for three of the last five years. There were 65,216 in-migrants and 64,818 out-migrants in 2010 and 76,922 in-migrants and 66,294 out-migrants in 2011. This positive trend was interrupted in 2012 when the number of in-migrants dropped to 74,165 and out-migrants climbed to 76,042. In 2013, net migration produced a surplus once again, with 80,428 college-educated adults moving to Virginia while 74,449 moved from Virginia to elsewhere in the U.S. However, a net outflow occurred again in 2014 with 80,108 out-migrants compared to 76,261 in-migrants.
State migration rates for college-educated adults can vary in response to regional economic conditions and the relative size of the higher education sector. Virginia’s net migration rate of college-educated adults was -1.9 per 1,000 population in 2014, which ranked 31st highest among U.S. states. This rate was higher than benchmark state Pennsylvania (-4.3), but lower than Texas (8.6), North Carolina (6.3), California (1.3), Massachusettts (-0.6), and Maryland (-1.2), and California (1.8). The leading state for 2014 was Arizona at 14.1 per 1,000 population. The domestic net migration rate for the United States is, by definition, zero.
Workforce Education Level
The percentage of Virginia’s workforce (defined here as anyone between the ages of 25 and 65) with at least a Bachelor’s degree has steadily improved over the last five years. In 2010, 36.5% of the workforce had a Bachelor’s degree or higher and 14.8% had a graduate or professional degree. By 2014, these percentages had improved to 38.8% and 16.2% respectively. Virginia ranked sixth among U.S. states in the percentage of the workforce with Bachelor’s degrees and fourth for graduate or professional degrees. Among benchmark states, only Massachusetts (44.3% for Bachelor’s degree or higher and 18.7% for graduate/professional degrees) and Maryland (39.9% Bachelor’s degree or higher and 17.8% for graduate/professional degrees) were higher.
Workforce educational achievement percentages vary widely within Virginia. Ranking highest in 2014 was the Northern region, where 54.3% of the workforce had Bachelor’s degrees or higher and 24.5% had a graduate or professional degree.
Science and Engineering Employment
Virginia has an impressively high percentage of skilled workers, reflecting the state's knowledge-intensive industries. Virginia ranked first in the nation in the percentage of its workforce (7.5%) in science and engineering (S&E) occupations for 2014, up from 7.3% in 2009. Maryland (7.4%)and Massachusetts (6.9%) were the closest benchmark states. The national average was 4.7%.
Academic Entrepreneurship Experience
Virginia’s public institutions of higher education stimulate interest and develop skills in entrepreneurship through training, experiential learning, formal degree programs and concentrations, entrepreneurial centers, student clubs and organizations, and entrepreneurial student living arrangements. Many colleges and universities have started or scaled up resources and programs in these areas in recent years. George Mason University and Virginia Tech provide formal degree programs in entrepreneurship, while the College of William and Mary, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University offer concentrations at the Master’s or Baccalaureate levels. Centers for Entrepreneurship have been established at most institutions, including: the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at the College of William & Mary; the Mason Enterprise Center (MEC) at George Mason University; James Madison University’s Center for Entrepreneurship; the Strome Entrepreneurial Center and Center for Enterprise Innovation at Old Dominion University; the Galant Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia; the da Vinci Center at Virginia Commonwealth University; and the Apex Systems Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech.
Seven graduate-level public universities offer clubs and experiential learning programs and entrepreneurship training programs for students and members of the public. Total headcount in student and public entrepreneurial training in FY2015 was estimated at 8,469. In addition, the College of William and Mary, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech offer student entrepreneurship living arrangements, which provide a living-learning community for learning, networking, and mentoring.
What are the implications?
The talent pipeline shows how well the state continues to build the human capital needed for innovative industries. FIRST participation, an indicator of K-12 interest in STEM learning that may lead to future increases in STEM college degree program enrollment, remains at high levels, though it decreased slightly in 2015. Virginia higher education institutions continue to increase overall STEM degree production, suggesting that the state is responding to the increasing demand for scientific and technical workers. Virginia universities are also ramping up efforts to cultivate student entrepreneurship. The state has been successful in adding to the skilled labor supply by attracting highly educated workers from elsewhere in the U.S. in three out of the last five years through domestic migration. Virginia has an impressively high concentration of workers in science and engineering occupations, and workforce educational attainment levels continue to improve. However, some regions have significantly lower concentrations of higher educational attainment. Overall, Virginia has been successful in stimulating student interest in STEM from an early age and training and attracting skilled workers needed for innovation- and entrepreneurship-driven growth.
Data Sources and Definitions:
Each IEMS indicator reports data available as of June 27, 2016 and provides a description of trends for five years of historical data when available.
Virginia FIRST: Participation data were provided by VirginiaFIRST and Virginia-DC FIRST Lego League. VirginiaFIRST is responsible for the High School programs (FRC and FTC) while Virginia-DC FIRST Lego League handles FLL and Jr.FLL. Participation is identified by program, including FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), FIRST Lego League (FLL), and Jr. FIRST Lego League (Jr. FLL). Participation is estimated by multiplying the average number of students per team by the number of teams. http://www.virginiafirst.org/. Data available every year in May.
STEM Degrees Awarded: STEM degrees are defined using the STEM-Designated Degree Program List of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS): http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm. Degree data are from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Completions (C) and Institutional Characteristics (IC) files: www.nces.ed.gov/ipeds/. The first four years were revised release files and 2013-2014 was a provisional release file. All institutional awards are counted (first and second degrees). Two degree levels are computed: (1) Associate’s, (2) Bachelor’s or above (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, and first-professional degrees only). First-professional degrees are degrees that are required to start practice in a profession and require at least six academic years of total college work. Institutional awards other than degrees are not counted (e.g., certificates). Degrees are computed for public, private non-profit, and private for-profit institutions. Institutions are associated with a state based on legal address information (state abbreviation) from the IPEDS Institutional Characteristics (IC) file. Available every year in March.
Net Migration of Knowledge Workers: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Tables B07009 and B07409, 1-Year Estimates: http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml. Total domestic in-migration shows the college-educated population 25 years of age and over that moved into Virginia from other states in a given year. Domestic out-migration shows the college-educated population 25 years of age and over that moved to a different state in a given year. Available every year in September.
The net migration rate shows the number of net college-educated migrants 25 years and older per 1,000 college educated residents 25 years and older. It is calculated as (I-E)/P*1,000, where I is number of state college-educated in-migrants 25 years and older, E is the number of state college educated out-migrants 25 years and older, and P is the average state college educated population 25 years of age and over in the reference year (Pi) and the previous year (Pi-1).
Workforce Education Level: Data obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (Table B15001): http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.
Workforce is defined as the population ages 25 to 65. State computations are based on one-year data. Regional computations are based on five-year data. State data available every year in September. Regional data available every year in December.
Science and Engineering Employment: Data obtained from National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators 2016 (Table 8-34): http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2016/nsb20161/#/singleind/31/T.
S&E occupations are defined by 77 standard occupational codes that encompass mathematical, computer, life, physical, and social scientists; engineers; and post-secondary teachers in any of these S&E fields. People with job titles such as “manager” are excluded. Because of this difference and the sample-based nature of the data, estimates for sparsely populated states and the District of Columbia may be imprecise. Available every two years in January.
Entrepreneurship Education and Experience: Data obtained from the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)’s spring 2015 University Survey. Based on responses from the College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, James Madison University, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.