The Data Governance and Analytics Office recognizes the importance of data talent development to help prepare the next generation workforce to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia forward. A well-rounded data professional knows the technology as well as the business and its processes. The programs below were developed to provide valuable and broad experience to students, contribute to the workforce pipeline, and provide the state with talented resources that will contribute to data initiatives.
Rural IT Apprenticeship Program
During the 2019 legislative session, the General Assembly created the Rural IT Apprenticeship Program. The program allows student apprentices to work on data technologies under the mentorship of an IT professional while engaging with data stewards and subject matter experts. It’s a two-fold education that allows students to gain experience in the field of data while learning the business of government.
The program awards grants to small, rural information technology businesses in certain localities in the Southwest and Southside regions of Virginia. The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is the administrator of the program and provides funding to pay for the student apprentice salaries. The Office of the Chief Data Officer provides the infrastructure for the data documentation process as well as the Data Team Leads that serve as mentors to the student apprentices. Most importantly, the Office of the Chief Data Officer is providing the opportunity for the student apprentices to participate in The Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab at Radford University, an online, self-paced, competency-based (CBE) program that gives them access to a catalog of 38 undergraduate credits. There are 18 cybersecurity credits available, 14 geospatial intelligence, and 6 data intelligence credits. Within the data intelligence credits are two courses co-developed by Carlos Rivero, Chief Data Officer and Radford faculty on data documentation and curation as well as data visualization and quality.
This program allows talented individuals to stay in their respective rural communities while they learn new skills and are gainfully employed. As their experience and knowledge increases and their marketability expands within the industry, they can work on more complex projects and get promoted with their current employer, take advantage of expanded employment opportunities in the IT marketplace, build their own IT shop or run their own consulting company, which contributes to the local rural economy.
Commonwealth Data Internship Program
The Commonwealth Data Internship Program was initiated to enhance the state’s efficiency while providing real-world experience to students. It began in 2014 with 20 participating state agencies and 45 graduate interns from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business. The program has expanded to include several participating colleges and universities across the Commonwealth. Read more about the history of the program in this StateScoop article.
The program benefits not only students, but faculty and Commonwealth agencies as well. Most faculty concentrate on the classroom, but this program provides them the opportunity to get out of the classroom and focus on the world around them. It's an engaging experience for faculty to partner with agencies across the Commonwealth as well as with businesses that want to interact with the state. Commonwealth agencies benefit by gaining access to individuals with data and technology skills and their innovative, creative solutions. In addition, students gain credible work experience and are rewarded with being part of a select group chosen to work on high-value program projects.
To get involved with the program, contact the VITA Innovation Program.