Take Five with Michael “Todd” Estes. The former shipbuilder and current VCCS Director of Career Education Programs and Workforce Partnerships is heading east to take on what some might describe as the role of a lifetime.
1. Congratulations on your appointment as Founding Executive Director of the newly formed Community College Workforce Collaboration (CCWC) in Hampton Roads. What should be the first order of business in your estimation and why?
One of the first priorities for the CCWC will be to work with the leadership at Camp, Thomas Nelson, and Tidewater to identify and clearly understand the strengths, expertise, and tangible assets each college offers the greater Hampton Roads region and how leveraging these assets through a coordinated effort we can better serve our students and our key industry partners.
2. What skills do you bring to the table that will help you excel in this new role?
In my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work as a shipbuilder in Hampton Roads, to develop and support apprenticeship and workforce training programs for an array of industries at the community college-level, and to coordinate state-level workforce-related initiatives while with the VCCS Office. Each of these experiences has offered me an opportunity to view workforce programing from a different perspective and will help me better support the essential partnerships needed for success.
3. What are some of the major challenges that you see ahead for the CCWC?
The energy, enthusiasm, and resources needed to support and expand workforce development efforts in Virginia have significantly increased over the last decade. As a result, we have an incredible opportunity to better direct this energy and align these resources to achieve unparalleled results. The challenge will be in developing and sustaining the public-private partnerships that take advantage of these resources while tapping into and respecting the expertise, leadership, and great work already underway in the region. Ultimately, the CCWC must provide opportunities for collaboration across the Hampton Roads region that have proven elusive in the past. I am thrilled to be part of this effort and I truly believe we’ll have an opportunity to make Hampton Roads an even better place for businesses and the communities we all call home.
4. Since you’ll be their primary contact, what should the Hampton Roads business community know about you? What should the participating colleges, TCC, TNCC and Camp, expect?
For the CCWC to be successful, we must leverage the power of shared expertise and shared resources to create the innovative partnerships the region needs while maintaining transparency and establishing trust. These priorities apply to all of our relationships – within our colleges, among other key agencies and providers in the region, and with our valued employer partners. We must work together with a commitment to shared success for all of our partners!
5. Let’s look ahead for a moment. Where do you see the CCWC in six months to a year from now and what do you hope to accomplish?
We will work with the leaders at Camp, Thomas Nelson, Tidewater, key businesses, support agencies, and workforce development providers this spring to quickly standup the CCWC by establishing expectations and operating parameters. Once established, we will focus our initial efforts on listening. Listening to the valued partners in the region to identify areas of shared priorities and shared resources. By the end of 2021, we should be well on our way to creating the innovative solutions that our region needs.