Va. Gov James Gilmore announces internship program

Va. Gov. James Gilmore announced the creation of the Virginia Technology Internship Program (VTIP) at a meeting of his Commission on Information Technology yesterday at George Mason University.

Gilmore said VTIP would provide 5,000 of the state's advanced high school and college-level students with internships at technology-based businesses with the aim of keeping those students employed with Virginia's IT companies after they graduate.

VTIP positions would run for three years and offer tax incentives to businesses for the first two years, but all the details of subsidy have yet to be worked out, Gilmore said. "VTIP encourages the students to come through the Virginia system and take those [IT] jobs," he said.

Gilmore said he would like to see the plan become a permanent fixture in the state, which currently has about 30,000 IT jobs unfilled. "If the industry continues to grow, then they'll be a continuing need for these employees," he said.

Students interested in pursuing VTIP jobs will have to meet certain curriculum, grade and age requirements, but will benefit from a database to be used as the "centralized resource" for the program, said Secretary of Technology Donald Upson, who is also commission chairman. The database will be used by the students and the employers to post and respond to internship opportunities.

The IT commission was assembled to present Gilmore with "Investing in the Future: Toward a 21st Century Information Technology Workforce," a report that examines the ability of the state's IT industry to acquire and develop trained workers.

The 35-member commission called for government, educational and private sector action to help alleviate the IT work shortage problem and suggested better advertising of IT jobs and opportunities in all areas through a variety of programs, including ones such as VTIP.

Work force is the third of four topics that Gilmore asked the commission to research. He already has received their reports on the Internet and the state's regional IT breakdown. He now awaits the next report on taxation.

The Governor also announced that Unisys Corp. will expand into Tazewell County in Southwestern Virginia, creating 40 IT jobs at the company.

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