Grant will assist small business in training, credentialing workers

economic-forecast-headerA new $1 million program will assist small businesses of up to 250 employees in improving the occupational and technical skills of their workers through workforce credentials that drive business growth.

The new program will launch June 1. The industry recognized certifications and occupational licenses to be provided by the program will help incumbent workers stay employed and progress in their careers.

“The goals of our workforce development efforts are to help businesses grow and help individual workers progress,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “This new program places business and industry in the driver’s seat and gets more Virginians the skills and credentials they need to access jobs with middle class wages and opportunities for growth.”

The new initiative heralds the Commonwealth’s renewed focus on improving and streamlining business services at Virginia’s One Stop Career Centers, community colleges, and other access points to Virginia’s workforce development system.

The new program will be administered by the Virginia Community College System and will require Workforce Development Regions and local community colleges to work cooperatively and closely with small businesses in their local areas.  These partnerships will develop workforce training plans for the employees of participating small businesses, and then implement and evaluate workforce training programs addressing the competencies identified in the training plans.

Training funded by the new program must be targeted to a national, portable workforce credential in a field for which employers are demanding skills development and certifications, including manufacturing, energy, information technology, cybersecurity, health care, transportation, and logistics.

“Attaining Virginia’s goals for postsecondary education and workforce credentials will require new and innovative business-education partnerships,” said Secretary of Education Anne Holton.  “Bringing together employers, community colleges, and our One Stop Career Centers to expand opportunities for continued education and credentialing will help us reach the Governor’s goal to make the Commonwealth the Best Educated State in the U.S.”

Funding for the new program will come out of set aside funds in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).  To expand the pool of resources available for training and credentialing, participating businesses and industries will contribute from 10% to 50% of the cost of the training, based on the business’s number of employees.

“We spoke with more than 1,500 business leaders across Virginia last year during 22 town hall meetings,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “And we heard from a lot of small business owners who have a tough time helping their employees stay up-to-date with their skills, finding qualified people to hire, and actually doing what their business does. We need more credentialed talent across the board, and this approach focuses resources in a smart way, providing an economic development resource for small companies already invested in their local communities.”

For more information about the new program, including information on how small businesses can apply through their local One Stop Career Center, contact Yolanda Crewe at 804 819-3330 or ycrewe@vccs.edu.

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