McAuliffe invests $500,000 in community college program to credential Virginians in high-demand sector

newspaperGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday that seven of Virginia’s community colleges will receive direct incentives totaling $500,000 for student completion of credentials identified regionally as high-demand by business and industry.

The pilot program is an initiative of Governor McAuliffe’s New Virginia Economy Strategic Plan and supports his goal of seeing an additional 50,000 credentials in the Virginia economy before the end of his term. These credentials can lead an individual into careers that boast median wages at or above the Commonwealth’s per capita personal income of $48,377.

Participating community colleges include Blue Ridge Community College, Germanna Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Virginia Western Community College, and the three colleges that comprise the Southern VA Works collaborative – Danville Community College, Patrick Henry Community College, and Southside Virginia Community College.

Speaking about Thursday’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “The pilot program that I am announcing today will increase the number of Virginians with the credentials that benefit the entire Commonwealth.  These credentials, which are highly valued by business and industry, are the foundation for both individual success and for building a new Virginia economy.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “Few investments offer the prospect of greater return than getting more Virginians equipped with the credentials to compete in a 21st century economy.  We have travelled around the U.S. and the world, and a well-equipped workforce is the number one request of businesses that are attempting to expand or relocate to Virginia.”

Some examples of high-demand credentials include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification – for leading teams of employees and managing a budget on projects, a credential that is in particularly high-demand in Northern Virginia and the Greater Richmond Region.
  • American Welding Society (AWS) certification – to become a welder, a credential in great demand throughout the entire Commonwealth, but especially in the Hampton Roads region
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) certification – to become a professional driver, operating tractor trailers, a credential in demand across Virginia and especially through Southern and Southwest Virginia

“These credentials can help individuals secure good-paying, middle class jobs that will allow them to support a family.  And, they can do that without accruing a mountain of student debt,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.  “Helping more people earn these types of credentials is the higher education issue of our time.”

Federal Workforce Investment Act funding will be applied toward noncredit programs and courses at the pilot community colleges. These intensive training programs, designed with the direct guidance of business and industry, help Virginians get the jobs that fuel a diverse economy. Cost barriers will be removed, and 500 more Virginians will earn in-demand skills and credentials through this incentive program.

Incentives will only be paid for students who start programs and complete credentials that are identified as regionally high-demand sectors by business and industry. Incentives will be used to fuel and motivate the completion of credentials that help Virginia diversify its economy, yield a high return on investment and most importantly meet the needs of business.

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