Measuring Institutional Impact on the Tech Talent Pipeline

Using alumni data to demonstrate value

Published on Oct 6, 2023

Written by Remie Verougstraete

The US government is putting a lot of money on the table to help communities grow their tech workforce and infrastructure. With the signing of the CHIPS Act in 2022, over $280 billion was designated to support this effort. The investment is significant and the stakes are high – if it works, this initiative has the potential to reinvigorate regional economies, bolster US supply chains, and even shore up national security.

With so much on the line (and so much funding available), cities and regions across the country are putting their best foot forward by assembling cross-industry consortia that demonstrate capacity for tech innovation and production. Not surprisingly, higher education plays a critical role in these groups.  

As centers of research, innovation, and learning, colleges and universities have an important part in growing a region’s tech talent pipeline. The Economic Development Administration’s recent Tech Hubs grant competition is illustrating this reality. Groups of institutions are partnering with each other and other entities in their region and, in many cases, a university is actually the lead applicant for a consortium. Five of the eight groups recently awarded a total $238M under the Microelectronics Commons program were led by universities as well.

Demonstrating institutional value and alumni impact

Whether your institution is currently in the running for a Tech Hub grant or not, this moment highlights the importance of being able to tell your narrative and demonstrate your impact. After all, everyone loves to back a winner. By communicating your contributions to the regional tech ecosystem, you can elevate your institution and possibly your entire region, attracting investment and support that can help advance your mission for decades to come.

In a previous article, we considered how regions can showcase their overall “tech readiness.” In this piece, we’ll focus on three ways to spotlight your institution’s contribution to the tech ecosystem in your city, state, or region, using Lightcast data.

  1. Demonstrate completions in relevant program areas

  2. Identify alumni working in relevant jobs (including emerging roles)

  3. Demonstrate contribution to diversity in tech

1) Demonstrate completions in relevant program areas

The EDA Tech Hubs program and similar grants are typically looking for places with a pipeline of skilled talent, including college graduates with relevant skills and education. Therefore, the first step you can take to demonstrate impact is showing that you offer academic programs aligned with relevant, high-growth occupations, and that students are completing those programs at your institution.

For example, say you’re a university looking to showcase how you fuel the pipeline of tech-focused engineering talent in your state, and the nation. You want to quickly pull some data on how many completions your institution had in programs that connect to the kinds of tech jobs the EDA (and others) are focused on. 

Using the Analyst platform, you can dramatically simplify and speed up your research. 

  • Start by picking one or more relevant tech occupations. If applying for a Tech Hub grant, you’ll want to tie your selection to one of the 10 Key Technology Focus Areas (KTFAs).

  • For example, if we’re focusing on the “High performance computing, semiconductors, and advanced computer hardware and software” KTFA, we might use the “Electrical, Electronic, and Related Engineering” occupation group from the Lightcast Occupation Taxonomy (LOT), which allows us to quickly analyze a bundle of related occupations.

  • Using the Program Overview report, Analyst then automatically maps relevant academic programs to those occupations:

From there, you can see completion trends at your institution (and any others in the region, but we’ll stick with Example University’s completions for now). This includes overall completions in all relevant programs, and a breakdown by program type.

2) Identify alumni working in relevant jobs (including emerging roles)

Of course, degree completion is really just the beginning for alumni. To truly capture your institution’s impact on the tech workforce, you’ll want to go further by tracing their career pathways.

With Lightcast’s Alumni Pathways platform, you can measure not just how many students completed a particular program, but of those graduates, how many are actually working in a field related to that program of study – including their occupation, estimated wage, and more.

Better yet, you can highlight the specific job titles held by graduates (not just their occupation / SOC code according to the BLS). This is especially important when tracking alums working in the notoriously fast-changing tech industry. 

For example, there is no BLS occupation code (yet) for “Artificial Intelligence Engineer.” But it’s already a fast-growing role in the economy. Using Lightcast alumni career outcomes data, you can identify graduates working in this emerging field:

And, using the Lightcast skills taxonomy, we can even parse out the top skills alumni report using in their current role:

As seen above, these profiles also include geographic data, which is significant since much of the current federal funding is place-based, aimed to create “tech hubs” in specific regions. Showing that your graduates not only enter the tech workforce, but stay in your region further demonstrates your institution’s importance to the regional tech ecosystem. (You might say it allows you to demonstrate that you’re bridging the skills gap and plugging the brain drain!)

3) Demonstrate contributions to diversity in tech

To ensure the economic benefits of the CHIPS act are experienced by all, the legislation explicitly aims to boost participation of traditionally under-represented groups in the tech industry. For institutions, this makes it imperative to assess how your programs contribute to tech workforce diversity, and to communicate this contribution to potential donors and funding agencies.

Again, Lightcast’s Alumni Pathways platform makes this possible, and easy. Using the recently released Diversity Overview report, you can benchmark your programs’ graduates against the overall workforce in terms of racial and gender diversity – providing insight into how your institution opens pathways to opportunity for all in the tech economy.


As engines of research, innovation, and learning, colleges and universities can play an essential role in building and maintaining the pipeline of tech talent necessary for the CHIPS Act to succeed. This legislation, and the funding that comes with it, gives your institution an opportunity to tell your story, demonstrate your impact, and make the case for increased investment.

Besides showcasing the value you already provide, alumni data can also guide decisions about how to increase institutional value and effectiveness in the future. For that purpose, it’s important to supplement career profile data with survey-based insight into students' career mobility and satisfaction, as well as their experience of high-impact career-readiness practices while at your institution. To explore how Lightcast can help you collect that feedback from alumni, learn more about the Embark first destination survey and the National Alumni Career Mobility survey by joining our upcoming webinar.

For more like this, check out our article on 6 ways to use alumni outcomes data. For more on how Lightcast data can support your EDA Tech Hubs application, see our recent webinar on that topic.