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Major workforce credentialing milestone achieved ahead of schedule

Virginia has achieved the goal he set in hisExecutive Order 23 – Establishing the New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, which called for the annual production of 50,000 workforce credentials aligned with high-paying jobs in science, technology, engineering, math, and healthcare (STEM-H).

virginiaThe 50,361 STEM-H credentials awarded during fiscal year 2017 represent a 36-percent increase compared to fiscal year 2014 when the goal of 50,000 credentials per year was set. These credentials include: associate degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, certifications, licenses, and industry credentials.

“Because we set an ambitious goal of 50,000 STEM-H credentials each year, Virginia is transforming its workforce into one that is both highly skilled and work-ready for businesses across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “These workforce credentials are critical to supporting Virginia’s growing high-tech economy by providing citizens the skills they need to get good-paying jobs. The success of this effort is a testament to the hard work of our educators, students, and business leaders who are strengthening our new Virginia economy every day.”

Elevating the skills of Virginia’s workforce has been a signature focus of Governor McAuliffe’s administration. Working with bipartisan leaders in the General Assembly, Governor McAuliffe increased state funding for post-secondary workforce training by launching the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program, a first-in-the-nation performance-based program that reduces the cost of high-demand credentials by up to two-thirds. The Governor also championed redesigning the secondary system to better align the high school experience with jobs and post-secondary opportunities. In addition, he expanded access to non-traditional workforce training, such as registered apprenticeships, and supported expedited pathways to credentialing for Virginia’s veteran population.

“The alignment between Virginia’s economic development objectives and our workforce development investments is critical for future prosperity throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore.  “Firms that rely on talent with these STEM-H skills are growing at a faster rate and provide good long-term career opportunities. The commonwealth’s ability to help existing STEM-H businesses grow, as well as attract new companies in these sectors, will be driven by our ability to further develop that human talent pipeline.”

“There are a lot of folks to recognize for this accomplishment, but most especially the students, young and old, who pursued these challenging credentials,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent.  “These students are the future of Virginia’s workforce and we are proud to be a part of their success.”

Multiple state agencies contributed to this success by aligning their program resources to better meet the needs of business and industry, and to prepare workers for new and emerging technology-intensive jobs in the new Virginia economy.  As in previous years, STEM-H workforce credentials that count towards the Governor’s goal must align with occupations which require a high-degree of STEM-H knowledge and skills. Additionally, these occupations are limited to those with an average annual wage of $34,400 or more and require training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree.