~ Affordable pricing, job prospects in high-demand careers attract students across every region of Virginia. ~
RICHMOND — Virginia’s unique pay-for-performance program to help more individuals earn the workforce credentials necessary for jobs in high-demand careers is, itself, generating high demand.
In just its first seven months, Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Industry Credential Grants program has enrolled 3,309 people, of which more than half have already completed training, and 824 have earned an industry-recognized credential in a high-demand field.
The credentials at the heart of this program are postsecondary, industry-recognized certifications and licensures that people achieve through short-term community college training programs in fields ranging from healthcare and information technology to manufacturing, skilled trades and logistics. The grants program focuses on specific skills that Virginia businesses say are in high demand and can lead to good jobs in growing career fields.
“These credential grants represent the most important change in the way the state prepares workers for jobs of the future. Businesses across the state told us to focus less on degrees and more on skills, and that is what this program does. We’re off to a good start,” said Del. Kathy Byron (R-Bedford County), who sponsored the legislation creating the grants program last year, along with state Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville).
The grants program, which relies on businesses to determine what credentials are in high demand within their region, is facilitated through the Virginia Board for Workforce Development. Community colleges respond to that need by creating or expanding short-term training programs. More than 130 specific training programs have been deemed eligible through that process.
“For years the business community has been concerned about the ability to find potential employees with the skills needed in today’s economy. This program has given businesses hope that they are being heard, and that we are responding. I look forward to expanding this effort,” said Sen. Ruff.
Students who pursue these training programs are eligible for the grants on a first-come, first-served basis. The grants cover two-thirds of the training program costs, leaving students to pay for the remaining third, typically a price ranging between $100 and $1,100.
Nearly a third of the students who enroll in the program (28%) are pursing credentials in the healthcare field. A similar percentage (30%) are working toward logistics-related credentials. A quarter of the students are enrolled in manufacturing and welding (15%) and other skilled trades (9%). Information technology credentials, including cybersecurity, attracted 11% of grant students, and the remaining 8% are pursuing credentials in business and education.
“This is a good news story for both individuals and the employers who seek to hire them,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “These grants have accelerated the work of our colleges to deliver the trained and skilled workforce that everyone agrees is critical to Virginia’s economic future.”
The success of this program can be found in every region of Virginia, with colleges serving urban, suburban and rural communities all experiencing enrollment increases.
“This grant program is the most important economic development legislation that the General Assembly has passed in a decade,” said Brett Vassey, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. “Our members tell us that these industry-recognized credentials meet more than 60 percent of their workplace needs. This program is taking Virginia in the right direction.”
About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 300,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.