Skills for the 21st Century

The Role of Digital Fluency in Virginia’s Future

Digital skills lead to more opportunities and translate into increased earning power are key findings in a study released by Capital One and Burning Glass Technologies. These and other findings from the study were central to the discussion at a recent forum with Governor McAuliffe on “The Role of Digital Fluency in Virginia’s New Economy.”

The report provides an in-depth look at the digital skills required in open middle-skill jobs in the state of Virginia and District of Columbia. Middle-skill jobs, which are those that typically require less than a Bachelor’s degree and that pay above the national living wage, comprise 40 percent of total employment opportunity in Virginia and 36 percent in the District, according to the report. In Richmond, Va., that percentage increases to 44 percent.

Among the study’s key findings for Virginia:

  • Digital skills lead to more opportunities: 80 percent of all middle-skill job postings require digital skills
  • Digital skills translate into increased earning power: Middle-skill jobs that require digital skills pay 46 percent more than non-digital middle-skills jobs
  • Employers in Virginia are more likely to be seeking computer and networking skills than in other regions, with IT demand spread out among multiple industries

Among the study’s key findings for the District of Columbia:

  • Digital skills lead to more opportunities: 87 percent of all middle-skill job postings require digital skills
  • Digital skills translate into increased earning power: Middle-skill jobs that require digital skills pay 48 percent more than non-digital middle-skills jobs
  • There is twice as much demand for computer and network support skills in DC than compared to the demand for those skills nationally

The top digitally intensive middle-skills jobs in the region are office/administrative roles, assistant, sales representative, network and computer systems administrator, computer support specialist, registered nurse, and retail supervisor, according to the study.

“We must respond to the demands of the changing global economy by providing employers with a steady stream of talented workers who can succeed in the digital era,” said Governor McAuliffe during the forum. “Our people are our greatest asset as we build a new Virginia economy. When we prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, employers will continue to seek out Virginia as a top destination for investment.”

At the event, Governor McAuliffe joined business and community leaders including Capital One Chief Enterprise Services Officer Frank LaPrade; Black Girls Code Founder Kimberly Bryant; Year Up National Capital Region Executive Director Ronda Harris Thompson; and Steve Lynch, Director of Workforce & Economic Development Services, Burning Glass Technologies, for an interactive discussion about the digital skills gap, efforts underway to bridge the gap and help more individuals build the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century, and how business and community leaders can work together to overcome challenges in the way of progress.

To help address the digital skills gap, Capital One will invest $150 million over five years through its Future Edge initiative to help more Americans build the technical skills they need to succeed in an ever-changing, digitally-driven economy. Capital One is collaborating with leading educational and community organizations in Virginia, DC, and across the country on three areas of critical need to grow and prosper in the digital age: 1) skills for the 21st century, 2) small business development, and 3) financial well-being.

Examples of Future Edge initiatives in Virginia and DC highlighted at the event include:

  • Year Up National Capital Region is providing an IT training program for disadvantaged young adults in the DC metro area. In the first six months, students participate in an intensive technology curriculum on-site and learn soft skills including resume writing and interview techniques. Through a partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, the students can earn up to 18 credit hours toward their Associates Degree through Year Up's program. In the second six months, during the internship phase, students are paired with top companies such as Capital One, Marriott and NASA. This six-month internship provides real life experience and often times leads to professional entry-level job offers at completion.
  • Black Girls Code, which provides young women with afterschool programs, weekend workshops, summer camps, field trips and other technologically-focused activities designed to introduce them to computer science and programming and enable them to learn in-demand digital skills, is launching a regional chapter this month and expects to help inspire and empower thousands of local young women to pursue STEM-related careers.
  • With learning technology leader Grovo, Capital One this month launched the “Future Edge Digital Literacy Challenge,” a free digital literacy curriculum designed to prepare more low-to-moderate income Americans with the digital skills they need to fill open, middle-skills jobs. Available at futureedge.grovo.com, the course is entirely free and accessible to anyone. The curriculum teaches 10 digital competencies using 60-second videos followed by short quizzes. Topics include computer fundamentals, navigating Microsoft Office Suite, digital communications, online “netiquette,” security and privacy, online personal branding and networking, and productivity — competencies that are vital to empower the two-thirds of Americans who don’t have a college degree with the ability to secure better-paying, middle-skills jobs.
  • Per Scholas of the National Capital Region is training low-income, unemployed, and underemployed adults to qualify for and obtain good jobs in the high growth IT sector. Given demand to fill cyber security roles, Capital One this year is focusing its support on helping Per Scholas to develop a cyber-skills workforce training program. Per Scholas has convened a task force of business, education and government leaders to address the skills gap and develop a regional cyber workforce, including leadership from Accenture, Symantec, ManTech, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Anne Arundel Comm. College, Northern Virginia Comm. College, SkillSmart and other partners.
  • To help build STEM skills in Virginia youth, organizations such as CodeVA are expanding public school computer science offerings all across Virginia and Computers4Kids in Charlottesville, is providing after-school mentoring and technology training for low-income middle and high school youth.
  • Capital One’s C1 Coders program helps expose middle school students in Virginia to technology with a focus on software development. With mentoring from Capital One volunteers, students learn the basic principles of software development, explore the subject of touchscreens, and cover primary gaming topics such as motion detection and control and coding. Students develop their own app using MIT’s App Inventor program, an intuitive tool that lets users develop fully-functioning apps.