In his annual State of the Commonwealth address, Governor Terry McAuliffe emphasized the need to reorient the state’s approach to education and training to meet the demands of a 21st Century workplace.
“If we are going to prepare students for the jobs of today and create the jobs of tomorrow, we must fundamentally change the way we think about education,” McAuliffe said.
Pivotal to that strategy is a proposal to infuse Virginia’s Community Colleges with $25 million so they can produce more industry certifications and occupational licenses.
According to a recent study, Virginia must fill an estimated 1.5 million jobs by the year 2022. While as many as two-thirds of those jobs will require postsecondary education, most will not require a bachelor’s degree. Instead, businesses will seek applicants who hold associate’s degrees and or industry-recognized certifications.
In addition to a funding formula, the governor’s proposal would require a plan that provides for progress reports to ensure that high-demand workforce credential goals are being met and that state-supported industry certifications and licenses are aligned with business and industry needs so that more Virginians can access well-paying jobs.
Last year alone, more than 37,000 individuals received workforce credentials which are considered by many to be the pathway to Virginia’s new middle class.
“I started this job convinced that all of our Commonwealth’s challenges trace back to one essential solution: building a new Virginia economy, one that is diverse, sustainable and offers new opportunities for everyone,” McAuliffe observed. “And the progress that we are making together is a clear indication that we are on the right path to meeting those challenges and beginning a new chapter of opportunity and prosperity.”
Governor McAuliffe’s workforce proposal coincides with VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois’ six-year strategic plan – tripling the number of credentials awarded by Virginia’s Community Colleges by the year 2021.
The governor’s two-year, $109 billion budget proposal also designates an additional $214 million dollars for Virginia’s Community Colleges to strengthen and expand STEM and workforce programs.
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