Building A Data Center Workforce: PGCEDC’s Mayank Kapur At Bisnow’s DICE East Event On May 24
While Northern Virginia is the largest data center hub globally, the data center industry is extending its presence deeper into the D.C. suburbs, with talks of building facilities in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
However, one of the challenges that local communities face when looking to attract data centers is how to develop a workforce that can meet the demands of this industry. Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp., a business development platform in the D.C. metropolitan area, is working to help attract more skilled employees into the county’s data center field as it prepares to welcome more facilities to the area.
“We’re adamant on finding and retaining talent in workforce-critical areas such as data centers,” said Mayank Kapur, PGCEDC director of business development IT and cybersecurity.
Bisnow spoke with Kapur about PGCEDC’s involvement with the growth of the data center industry in Prince George’s County, and how it plans to create a better workforce development strategy for the next generation of facilities.
Bisnow: What inspired you to speak at Bisnow’s DICE East event?
Kapur: I’m excited to learn about new developments in the data center sector of Prince George’s County. Bisnow has quality events to help nurture organic growth in different communities, so I’m curious to see what people bring to the table to help evolve the data center industry in the county.
Bisnow: What topics will you speak about?
Kapur: I’ll speak about how Prince George’s County is positioned to become the leading hub for the growing data center industry. PGCEDC is working closely with the county’s Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the county’s EMS Department to fast-track all data center projects.
I will also be discussing the incentives Prince George’s County offers to help boost economic expansion, such as the EDI fund, which invests in new business projects. The Maryland General Assembly recently passed Senate Bill 397 allowing local governments to reduce or eliminate the percentage of the assessment of any data center personal property used in a qualified data center for tax reasons, which offers facility owners even more incentive to move to the state. Additionally, Prince George’s County has great water resources, power and fiber optics, and the PGCEDC works with local utilities to help make it the ideal county to meet the growing demand for data centers.
Bisnow: Can you describe your role at PGCEDC and some projects you’re working on?
Kapur: I’m the director of business development for IT, cybersecurity and data centers. Not only do I help with finding quality data center sites and work with different utilities to make sure these places are ready, on time and budget-friendly, but I’m also involved with workforce programs in the communities.
One program I’m involved with is The Educational Partnership for IT Careers, a workforce development program to help bridge the skills gap and connectivity between Prince George’s County residents and careers in the information technology and cybersecurity industries. Through EPIC, we can help residents develop occupational skills training, find apprenticeships and experience work-based learning.
Another program we offer that provides on-the-job experience and helps jump-start careers is the Apprenticeship Innovation Program, which offers job seekers resources to connect them with registered apprenticeships, industry-recognized apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships. It is the only local workforce development program dedicated to increasing and expanding apprenticeships, to help potential job candidates gain immediate employment and increase their skills and, as a result, earn higher wages.
Bisnow: What are the most pressing challenges in developing a data center workforce? How are you engaging with local stakeholders to help grow the talent in the area?
Kapur: One of the challenges is just finding the right talent for data centers. Also, it’s tough to retain this talent because many experienced workers are retiring while new employees aren’t staying at these positions for long due to pivoting earlier in their careers.
I think one of the ways to help grow talent in the area is to show students that there are not only jobs available but also local resources to help them prepare for the positions. Reaching out to different programs we have in Prince George’s County can help local stakeholders get a first look into the potential the county has to offer.
One of the programs built on core Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act principles is the America Job Center Community Network. AJCCN helps leverage different funding sources through community resources and connections to provide high-quality career services, education and training to job seekers throughout Prince George’s County. Our outreach helps provide IT training to schools, such as the University of Maryland, College Park, Bowie State University, Morgan State University and Prince George’s Community College.
Our Youth Career Center in Prince George’s County is a great program for young adults looking to fast-track their careers. Job candidates can get an individualized career pathway to increase their employability skills, earn national certifications and gain hands-on experience through our paid internship program.
For our communities that face employment opportunity barriers, Knowledge Equals Youth Success, or KEYS, is a program that provides supportive services, such as career pathways and credential attainment to help them get a leg up in the competitive workforce.
Through programs like these, Prince George’s County is helping to lay the groundwork for the data center workforce of tomorrow.
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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