Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

(L to R) Jamaul Taylor, Farley Dickey, Del. Kathy Byron, Dr. John Capps, CVCC President, Natalie Niehaus.

As Virginia lawmakers consider additional funding for the FastForward workforce training through Virginia’s Community Colleges, three CVCC workforce graduates traveled to Richmond in late January to convey how training at CVCC changed their lives.

Farley Dickey, Natalie Niehaus and Jamaul Taylor accompanied CVCC President John Capps in a trip to the General Assembly office of Lynchburg Delegate Kathy Byron.

Byron was one of the sponsors of legislation in 2016 to create Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grants, which in just two years, helped put more than 12,000 newly skilled workers into Virginia’s economy in jobs that employers were eager to fill.

The grants support FastForward short term training programs offered at community colleges across the state.

The CVCC delegation traveled to Richmond to thank Byron for her leadership, and present her with the Community College System’s highest honor, the Dana Hamel Award for Leadership and Service, named for the system’s founding Chancellor.

“The job training gave me my life back,” said Dickey, who struggled with PTSD after her military service. Today, after earning a medical certification through CVCC’s FastForward program, she’s a pediatric medical assistant in Lynchburg. “I’ve been able to go to work every day with a smile on my face. In fact, I don’t go to work. I work in pediatrics. I play all day, and I collect the check for that!”

After both she and her husband struggled after a serious auto accident, Niehaus explained that FastForward training at CVCC gave her the knowledge and encouragement to go into information technology services. Now employed as an IT help desk worker, Niehaus told Byron, “Without this grant, I would never have been able to take these classes. And it literally changed my life. Starting a new career never been an option for me if it weren’t for this program. I feel like the world is achievable now.”

Del. Kathy Byron (left) consults with CVCC President John Capps and FastForward Career Coach Renee Chalmers.

“These credentials are helping all of us,” said Jamaul Taylor, who landed a manufacturing job after training for industry recognized certifications at CVCC. “And now I’m on the way to more training, and more certifications.”

Byron said it was moving to hear how FastForward training had changed lives.

“These are great and heartwarming stories, they brought tears to my eyes,” Byron said. “We have a budget amendment in this year to try and get some more funding so we can assist more people. We hope to be able to encourage economic development in our area and give people opportunities to train for jobs that employers need to fill.”

In the current budget year, the state has invested $9.5 million in state grants to boost FastForward workforce training programs. If Byron’s budget amendment passes, that investment would double in the coming budget year.

jbabb@vccs.edu'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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