During a panel discussion, Blue Ridge President John Downey agreed, arguing that faculty from workforce and academic programs at our colleges must work together to create seamless programs to serve the needs of short-term and degree-seeking students. “We’re seeing unprecedented shortages of workers across industry sectors,” said Downey.
“We can’t just put the onus on students to know about programs and ask the right questions to get what they need,” added Randy Stamper, VCCS’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Career Education and Workforce Programs. “The long-held idea that a bachelor’s degree prepares people for the marketplace just isn’t working. People need skills, and they need help knowing which skills to acquire.”
Stamper’s call for more support for workforce training students was echoed by VCCS State Board member Maurice Jones, who is CEO of OneTen, a coalition of companies dedicated to upskilling, hiring and promoting one million African
Participants at this year’s Hire Ed conference know that it’s an unsettling time to be in the workforce training arena. Even as political leaders call on community colleges to produce more skilled workers for jobs that employers are eager to fill, labor market participation rates are in decline. With millions of Americans quitting their jobs, labor market analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass says the U.S. economy is in “uncharted territory.”
Virginia Labor Secretary George “Bryan” Slater told Hire Ed that Virginia Community Colleges are a “key partner” in training the workers that businesses need and called on our colleges to do more to help graduates of workforce programs find jobs.
Secretary Slater also announced that the administration will ask the General Assembly to establish a new state workforce
agency that will administer workforce development and training programs that currently are distributed across multiple agencies.
The proposed changes may impact about 30 employees at the VCCS System Office in Richmond who have responsibilities for administering several federal workforce programs.
Slater did not reveal details of the reorganization plan. He indicated plans will be shared with the General Assembly, which presumably would need to review and approve an agency realignment.
You can view and download additional photos from this year’s Hire Education Conference.