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Virginia Tech Training Program May Be at Risk

"That whole idea of helping to provide transition assistance to workers in training is valuable," he said.

Yet, employers who were hungry for workers in the late 1990s were resistant to hiring people without much paid technology experience, even during the boom. Of 9,164 students who completed training through the program, just 2,349 reported finding jobs in information technology.

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Hunn said he suspects that many more students found IT positions but since the partnership did not require them to respond to surveys, those people were difficult for his three staffers to track.

Besides, he said, the program moved quickly in response to the shifting economy. As companies that once clamored for employees began to slash their payrolls, the regional partnership started holding "talent nights" – informal job fairs – in 2001. NVRP leaders intended to branch out into training for health care and other high-demand sectors in the coming year. Those plans are now on hold.

Hunn said he is anxiously awaiting word on the latest negotiations over Virginia's budget. But he can't help using the past tense when describing his program's accomplishments.

"We were – we are – very productive in terms of getting money out to the community quickly," Hunn said. "I'd like to think we have done excellent work."

Survey Says

Techies in the Washington-Baltimore corridor take home the fifth-biggest paychecks in the nation, according to a study by Dice.com.

The average salary for technical workers in the region is $75,373, compared with the national average of $68,400. The D.C. area still ranks below such tech-friendly places as Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and Chicago.

Jobs that commanded the highest salaries nationally include information technology management, project managers and systems developers, the study said. Dice, an online job site based in New York, surveyed more than 61,000 technology workers last year to come up with the results. For more information, visit

www.dice.com

Instant Reply

Mark Trock of Germantown wrote to share his thoughts on contracting, in light of last week's @Work column on techies going back to work temporarily for companies that laid them off.

"Working as a contractor for companies can have its advantages but one of them is not steady employment during these times when most companies have slashed employees and IT budgets," Trock said. "Not until IT budgets get increased will you see the demand for new employees, which will signal a turnaround for the economy."

Join Carrie Johnson today at 11 a.m. at WashingtonJobs.com to talk about the technology job market. E-mail tips and gripes to johnsonca@washpost.com.


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