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August 31, 1999                             Read the full report.

Prepared by the Potomac Conference's InfoComm Industry Cluster Working Group and presented as an addendum to the panel discussion held during the Potomac Conference on June 11, 1999.

Executive Summary

The Problem:

 There are not enough workers with the right InfoComm skills to meet the demand in the Greater Washington Region and the region is not creating enough new workers to fill the short- and long-term industry needs.

Current Strategies:

Eight strategies that are currently used to address the InfoComm workforce shortage in the region include:

  • Steal employees from one another
  • Recruit workers from other regions
  • Import IT professionals from abroad
  • Rejuvenate (re-train) existing workers
  • Export the jobs to other regions
  • School-to-Work programs
  • Slow down growth
  • Do nothing

Recommendations to the Potomac Conference Leadership:

Identify an existing organization or group of organizations that will determine what problem this region is trying to solve regarding the InfoComm workforce issue.

The working group recommends that the identified organization, once established, focus on the following action items to enhance near-term economic competitiveness and augment workforce development efforts in the Greater Washington Region.

Action I. Petition the federal government to adjust the experience qualifications required under government contracts.

Action II. Enhance the clearinghouse of workforce development programs by working in conjunction with educators and employers to design methods for evaluating these programs. In this process, it will be important for the employers not only to provide input but also to provide ongoing support for these programs.

Action III. Provide an instructional resource designed to 1) train employers on best practices of internship and hands-on training programs and 2) enable more companies to integrate successful internship programs into their short- and long-term workforce development strategies.

The Potomac Conference InfoComm Industry Cluster Working Group

One of the contributing factors to the effectiveness of this working group was its engaged and focused core of voices from all regional jurisdictions – the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Approximately 50 people representing industry, associations, tech councils, higher education, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and specific workforce development programs actively participated in seven meetings and countless conference calls held over the past four months.

Special thanks go to Dan Bannister, Marc Weiss, Cathy Mattax, Mary Frances leMat, Neal Grunstra, Tony Buzzelli, and Cathy Lange for their time, effort and perseverance. Much appreciation to all of the working group members who moved this discussion toward action.

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