Workforce grant announced

Published 8:02 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced the launch of a new grant program designed to ensure workforce credentials are accessible and affordable for Virginians seeking the skills needed to obtain good-paying jobs in high-demand fields.

The New Economy Workforce Industry Credentials Grant program covers 124 different training programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges geared toward providing workforce credentials at one-third of their former cost.

“This program establishes a first-in-the-nation performance funding formula to create and sustain a supply of credentialed workers who meet the needs identified by our business leaders,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “This week’s launch is the culmination of many months of hard work by public and private sector partners, all of us working together to ensure that Virginia has a 21st century workforce with the skills and experience to compete in today’s global economy.”

The Virginia Board of Workforce Development identified more than 170 in-demand jobs aligned with the commonwealth’s economic development targets for which Virginians can prepare through the new program. These are jobs which require specific skills, but not necessarily a traditional college degree.

Community Colleges are making it even easier to earn workforce credentials by developing new programs, and adding classes and locations for increased convenience.

“To create the skilled workforce the commonwealth needs now and in the future, we need more options for training and credentialing that work for Virginians of all ages and life circumstances,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “For the first time, we have new options for workforce training and development that promptly get trainees into the skilled labor force.”

According to a recent Burning Glass report, there were more than 175,000 job vacancies for so-called middle-skill occupations last year in Virginia — the types of jobs typically requiring some type of credential. The jobs paid more than $28 per hour (more than $58,500 per year). According to the research, the jobs went unfilled for an average period of 26 days — longer than the national average. As a result, Virginia businesses lost 36.4 million hours of productivity, Virginia families lost more than $1 billion in potential wages, and Virginia’s general fund lost more than $54.3 million in revenue.

“The in-depth research that has gone into establishing this innovative program will help us to increase access and success in higher education, especially for some of our most underserved populations,” Secretary of Education Dietra Trent said.

Program costs vary widely, depending on the length and complexity of the training. The maximum value of each grant is $3,000. Additional financial aid can offset that cost even further. More information is available at the workforce development offices of the Virginia’s Community Colleges.

“Individuals earn these credentials in weeks and months, not semesters and years,” Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges said. “Those students are often quickly employed by businesses hungry for their skills. And they accomplish all that without piling on a decade’s worth of student debt.”