Jim ONeill, President of Northrop Grumman IT, sees a crisis down the road for American high-tech companies. With China and India graduating 500,000 and 250,000 engineers a year respectively, the U.S. graduates only 75,000. Thats a problem for Northrop Grumman, which hires only U.S. citizens for its defense-oriented jobsespecially when half the U.S. grads themselves are foreign nationals. Bisnow sat down with Jim to hear about Northrop Grummans initiative to address this state of affairs, which involves on-shoring tech jobs to rural America.
If Northrops National Work Force Center initiative works out as Jim hopes, it will increase the number of U.S. college grads qualified for technical work while providing jobs to rural areas and cost-effective labor to Northrop Grumman. Under the plan, Northrop Grumman has opened seven National Work Force Centers in remote areas, like a 100,000 square-foot call center and software engineering facility in Lebanon, Virginia, which will employ over 400. Other centers have been opened in Helena, MT; Johnston, PA; Corsicana, TX; Rapid City, SD; Auburn, A; and, just this September, the latest site, in Fairmont, WV.
Jim says Northrop is making donations to relevant rural colleges to beef up their computer science curriculumsthe better to provide a stream of qualified workers. Northrop Grumman and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, for instance, have together put $1 million into the coffers of the University of Virginias College at Wise (near the Lebanon site).
Northrop Grumman is betting that the college programs will help fill job vacancies (currently, it has approximately 1,000 openings) and help prevent the labor shortage Jim fears. Overall, Northrop is a $30 billion operation with 120,000 employees. Northrop Grumman IT accounts for $5 billion of the take and is organized into four separate divisions: TASC (intelligence); Civilian Agencies; Defense; and Commercial, State and Local. It has over 5,000 active contracts, one of the largest being a $2.5 billion assignment (over ten years) to run IT operations for more than 80 agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia.