Virginia’s Community Colleges and Businesses Work Together to Add 35,000 Workers to Virginia’s Infrastructure Workforce

Home|News|Virginia’s Community Colleges and Businesses Work Together to Add 35,000 Workers to Virginia’s Infrastructure Workforce

RICHMOND — Virginia’s Community Colleges, businesses, and trade associations across the state are teaming up to address Virginia’s acute shortage of skilled, credentialed infrastructure workers. The Virginia Infrastructure Academy (VIA) is an unprecedented collaboration that will ensure community college training programs produce high-demand graduates at business speed to address the needs of the transportation, wind and solar energy, and high-speed broadband industries.

VIA leaders believe that strategically scaling up and replicating successful infrastructure-related community college training  programs, which now produce 4,000 graduates annually, could produce a total of 35,000 over the next five years.

“Industry needs in the face of evolving technology played a leading role in the creation of our institutions,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We’ve arrived at yet another urgent moment. And our ability to connect individuals with high-demand infrastructure jobs, which offer family-sustaining wages and career advancement opportunities, will determine not just their future success but that of the entire commonwealth.”

The VIA collaboration will engage community colleges and business leaders to ensure that existing training programs are addressing urgent community needs and forecasting when and where the programs should expand. Those programs include heavy construction and maintenance, focusing on road, bridge, and tunnel construction; broadband expansion; and on- and off-shore wind and solar energy infrastructure and distribution, which all lead to high-paying jobs and career advancement opportunities.

“This work cannot begin too soon as far as Virginia companies are concerned,” said Ed Dalrymple, president of Chemung Contracting Corp., near Culpeper, Va. and a member of the State Board for Community Colleges “The recently approved federal infrastructure plan is only one of the things adding urgency to this work. Virginia is an amazing place to live, work, and play. There are investments we must make now, and projects we must begin now if we want to keep that reputation. And our businesses need more skilled and qualified people to hire if they are going to make that happen.”

The Lumina Foundation is funding the VIA’s start-up cost with a two-year, $400,000 grant. That funding will support an initial review of existing infrastructure programs across Virginia’s 23 community colleges, a plan for initial program growth through in-person and virtual offerings, and outreach to potential students.

“New investments in infrastructure will lead to millions of new jobs, many of which will require some form of training beyond high school but not a four-year degree. Community colleges are critical partners in ensuring that workers – especially adults of color – can get the skills they need to take advantage of these new opportunities. Lumina is proud to work with Virginia’s Community College System to support the innovate Infrastructure Academy model,” said Kermit Kaleba, strategy director for Employer Aligned Credential Programs for the Lumina Foundation.

Individuals who elect to pursue training in a high-demand infrastructure field may find them to be among the most affordable options in higher education today. FastForward, G3, and other available financial aid programs may allow students to pursue and complete these programs for little or no out-of-pocket costs. Please contact your nearest community college to explore your options.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 250,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

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