At the Virginia Conference on Economic Leadership, William Ermatinger,
VP of Human Resources and Administration for Northrop Grumman in
Newport News, spoke to a rapt audience regarding "What It Takes to
Build A Globally Competitive Workforce in the 21st Century". Given his
position at Northrop Grumman, he was able to speak with authority
regarding the high-skilled employee workforce in Virginia.
Per Northrop Grumman’s website, here is a quick blurb on the company:
Northrop Grumman Newport News, headquartered in Newport News Va., is the nation’s sole designer, builder, and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of only two companies capable of designing and building nuclear powered submarines. Newport News also provides after-market services for a wide array of naval and commercial vessels. The Newport News sector employs more than 21,000 people.
I didn’t jot down the stats on their employee base, but he had some
outstanding figures on how many people they employ here in Virginia,
how highly specialized and highly skilled (i.e., nuclear welders) that
workforce needs to be, and how many have to be replaced each year.
In my mind, Mr. Ermatinger’s remarks could be boiled down to three major points that I would like to highlight here:
- Education development and reform should be handled with an eye
towards global competitiveness and following an all-encompassing
approach, rather than merely K-12 reform.
- The private sector should contribute more to the educational
systems, with the mindset of it being an investment in their business.
The old mindset has been that donations are given out of goodwill, but
we need to realize that it is not a charity cause but a real driver of
- For contributions to education, the private sector needs to not
only donate money, but also time, talent, and expertise. Money is
necessary, of course, but there are other needs that in some ways are
even more important.
Northrop Grumman shows their commitment to these ideas not only in
words, but also in the programs that they have instituted to train
their current employees and their employee base.