June 28, 2022
Over the past two years, despite the pandemic, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has attracted more than 5,000 people to eight job fairs.
The workforce initiative’s website – workinnorthernvirginia.com – lists jobs, internships and training opportunities from more than 500 companies and receives more than 45,000 views per month, according to the EDA.
“We’re really gaining momentum,” says Mike Batt, director of the EDA’s Talent Initiative program, which aims to attract new talent to the region, retain employees and help workers land better-paying jobs. In addition to sponsoring its own career fairs, FCEDA has also participated in approximately 30 college and university events as part of the initiative over the past two years.
The Washington, D.C. metro area has nearly 3.4 million people in the workforce, and nearly 57,000 people joined the labor force last year, he says, an increase of 1.7 % compared to 2020.
“We still need a lot more,” says Batt. “Right now, there are 150,000 open jobs in Northern Virginia.”
A particular goal is to attract veterans leaving military service to pursue careers in Northern Virginia.
In May, EDA partnered with the Virginia Chamber Foundation and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to host a two-day career fair for veterans and military spouses. The event held in-person sessions May 11 at the National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir and a virtual fair the following day. More than 50 companies and approximately 600 veterans and military spouses participated.
With 27 military bases and some of the largest defense contractors in the world based in Northern Virginia, not to mention the Pentagon itself, Virginia has a major presence in the defense industry.
At the end of April, more than 1,400 companies in the region were recruiting for a total of 18,199 jobs at the security clearance level, according to the EDA. And Fairfax County is home to nearly 80,000 veterans and their families, and nearly 2,000 veteran-owned businesses.
Bruce Williams, recruiter for BAE Systems Inc., a global defense contractor with US headquarters in Falls Church, said his company was grateful to participate in the talent initiative, as were job seekers. “The events are well organized and well set up,” he says.
Anna K. Nissinen, FCEDA’s vice president of marketing communications, says Fairfax County is home to about 8,700 tech companies, many of which are looking for workers. In addition to numerous career opportunities, the region offers options for a good work-life balance. “You can hike the mountains and then you can be downtown DC in an hour.”