“We have tremendous resources to help connect employers and job-seekers in the Commonwealth, but our research shows that many Virginians are not aware of these important programs,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at the announcement event. “We’ve made great strides to enhance our workforce development assets by building a demand-driven workforce system, engaging and building a skilled workforce, and activating our network. Now, it is time to put Virginia to work. With today’s announcement, we are stepping up our game and delivering these resources to market under a consistent and exciting new brand.”
The McAuliffe administration has transformed Virginia’s workforce development system by making it more responsive to the needs of business, creating new capacity to train in critical high-demand areas, and aligning the system’s programs and resources towards a set of shared goals. The Governor established a first-in-the-nation performance-based grant program to create and sustain a supply of credentialed workers who meet the needs of high-demand jobs. The New Virginia Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program covers 166 different programs in Virginia geared toward providing credentials at one-third of their former cost. Since the program’s inception, the grant has supported the attainment of 4,000 industry-recognized credentials, licenses, and certifications needed for high-demand careers. The program has nearly tripled the number of people who earned credentials at Virginia’s community colleges and higher education centers.
“Today’s announcement is an important step forward as we move to activate fully our network of workforce development resources across the Commonwealth,” said Governor-Elect Northam.“This new brand and the services it represents is a commitment to building stronger communities, growing economies, and more competitive industries in Virginia. I thank Governor McAuliffe and his team for everything they have done over the last four years and look forward to utilizing this new brand in the years to come.”
Workforce, education, and economic development leaders from across the state have been fully engaged in the six-month branding process and participated in multiple work sessions to clarify the system’s strength and opportunity, as well as identify the brand’s key characteristics. The process was predominantly guided by market research, polling a cross-section of hiring managers representing a range of business sizes and industries, along with a geographically diverse group of residents, to establish a benchmark of awareness and knowledge. Roughly 50 percent of employers surveyed were able to recall with accuracy a local or state workforce organization; 25 percent of job-seekers were able to do the same.
Later in the branding process, employers and job-seekers were polled again to test potential names and brand marks or logos. Based on the market research, Virginia Career Works was selected due to its strong appeal with both customer groups.
“Having a unified brand for Virginia’s workforce development system is a critical, but positive, step in our efforts to have trained and ready-to-hire human talent pool in Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Right now, employers are looking to fill more than 150,000 high-quality jobs across the Commonwealth, and we’ll need to fill an approximate 1.5 million over the next ten years. To leverage fully that growth, our workforce system must engage and develop talent with the skills to fill those jobs. And now, thanks to the successes achieved under Governor McAuliffe, working in collaboratively with the General Assembly, the private sector, and other state government partners, we’re going to do that together, as Virginia Career Works.”
“As we learned during the development of our Blueprint Virginia 2025, the ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce is the number one issue facing Virginia businesses,” added Barry DuVal, President of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This unified branding initiative demonstrates another significant step towards a more cohesive, strategic approach to workforce development in the Commonwealth as we work to advance the system in a way that benefits both businesses and job seekers.”
Over the next nine months, local workforce boards will update their websites, social media channels, and business materials – including business cards and forms – and facilities will have new signage to activate the new brand. A comprehensive activation plan is in development to guide partners through the implementation process, and Governor McAuliffe has committed federal funds to assist local partners with the costs associated with the transition.