Growing importance of workforce training programs spotlighted at 2022 VCCS Hire Education Conference - VCCS

Growing importance of workforce training programs spotlighted at 2022 VCCS Hire Education Conference

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P&HCC President Greg Hodges “We have to do things differently than we have in the past. There’s a new normal, and we will have to change what we do to meet the needs of people and businesses in our service regions.” Patrick & Henry Community College President Greg Hodges told participants at this year’s Hire Education Conference that national economic forces are making workforce training programs more essential, and in some ways more challenging than ever before.

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

Board member Maurice JonesAmericans by the end of the 2020s.  Jones argued community colleges need to help create “an ecosystem” of support programs. “We can have great workforce training programs, but if students can’t get to class, or have childcare problems, or are too hungry to concentrate, then it’s just not going to work,” said Jones.
Hire Ed conference participants

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

Labor Secretary George “Bryan” Slater

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.


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