Virginia's Talent Pipeline May Soon See a Big Shift

May 16, 2019

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

For many years, young people in Southside and Southwest Virginia have been leaving the area after graduating from college. But, that may not be the case for much longer.

Northern Virginia has the highest levels of education. But that’s only one way to look at the data.

Spencer Shanholtz at the University of Virginia Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service says a closer look at the numbers show something kind of surprising.

“Relative to population, those areas outside of Northern Virginia are producing a considerably significant amount more degrees and certificates relative to population than the Northern Virginia region,” Shanholtz explains.

And what happens to all those highly educated people? Traditionally, they’ve moved to Northern Virginia or other urban areas. But that might be about to change.

Shannon Blevins at UVA-Wise’s Office of Economic Development says lots of people who want to stay in rural Virginia are about to get that chance.

“So when you kind of think about rural regions being wired and the whole world of having access to the internet and broadband it opens up plenty of opportunities that just didn’t exist even 10 years ago,” she says.

Lots of young people will still head to urban areas she says. But those people who want to stay Southside and in the Southwest will be able to thanks to the expansion of telework and broadband. That means the talent pipeline in Virginia might end up looking radically different 10 years from now.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.