Case Study

Northrop Grumman invests in local talent development; strengthens relationships with underrepresented populations

Strategic Partnerships

ServiceStrategic Partnerships


Fueled by tech, defense, and life science industries, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent to remain on the cutting edge. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent challenge. Meanwhile, many San Diego residents are disconnected from the economic engines of growth, largely due to lack of access to education. In 2018, EDC’s employer-led inclusive growth steering committee announced a regional goal to double the number of skilled workers (degree or credential holders) in San Diego to 20,000 by 2030.


Northrop Grumman Corporation


Inclusive Growth, Advancing San Diego


With unemployment at an all-time low, the pool of qualified talent is limited. For San Diego defense contractors with stringent hiring requirements, the pool of competitive candidates shrinks further. Northrop Grumman (NGC) had historically relied on the high-cost strategy of recruiting talent from outside of San Diego as a short term strategy for filling critical jobs.


Through its Inclusive Growth initiative, EDC made the case that a stronger local talent pipeline benefits both the individual firm and the regional economy at large. Employers are encouraged to play an active role in achieving the regional goal of 20,000 skilled workers by 2030 and think beyond traditional approaches for sourcing qualified talent. NGC executives used this conversation as an impetus to strategically align the company’s STEM education programs to form a clear pathway for underserved students in as early as high school to pursue careers in aerospace and defense. In doing so, EDC connected NGC with new strategic partnership opportunities, particularly within the community college system which serves hundreds of thousands of San Diegans. EDC also helped amplify the company’s inclusive workforce program to a broad audience in hopes that other companies might make similar investments.

“Northrop Grumman’s talent pipeline program evolved through its involvement with San Diego Regional Economic Corporation’s Inclusive Growth Steering Committee and support for the Advancing San Diego initiative, aimed at aligning local industries with workforce development programs and regional education systems. Cooke is on the committee with Cynthia Curiel, sector vice president of communications for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. Through their leadership, Northrop Grumman and MiraCosta began to collaborate in developing the program, including working with the MiraCosta College Career Center and with neighboring colleges and universities.”



Northrop Grumman’s talent development strategy is a microcosm of how to build stronger talent pipelines at a regional scale – one where students are engaged in STEM early-on and pursue a STEM career. By examining their own internal policies and procedures, Northrop Grumman is growing its pool of qualified talent and expanded access to careers at the company for underrepresented students. Here are some of the early results of the program:

  • The BA requirement at NGC reinforced barriers for underrepresented, underserved students to pursue a career at the company. NGC re-introduced its engineering assistant position for students with an Associate’s Degrees to obtain a pathway to a FT position and leverage NGC’s educational assistance program.
  •  EDC invited NGC to participate in the launch event of its own Advancing San Diego initiative, which welcomed 75+ regional business leaders and community partners. To date, the announcement secured 4 local media placements, yielding more than 350,000 impressions. On social media, this announcement garnered 75,000 impressions and more than 200 engagements. In Q4, NGC officially announced aspects of its student talent pipeline program for San Diego.
  • Collectively, EDC & NGC created an effective program to work towards its goal to double the number of skilled workers in SD by 2030, catalyzing other companies to join the efforts



Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 85,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products, and services.

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