RICHMOND - The National Governor’s Association (NGA) announced last week that Virginia has been selected to receive a $170,000 grant and will also be one of 14 states to participate in an 18 month national policy academy aimed at better aligning education and workforce training to economic development priorities.
The NGA grant proposal was jointly submitted by the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Community College System. Grant activities will focus on increasing the Commonwealth’s attainment levels of STEM-H (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Health) credentials, including industry certifications, apprenticeship credentials and degrees,most needed by Virginia’s current and emerging businesses and industries. This announcement by the NGA comes just a week after Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order establishing his “New Virginia Economy” workforce initiative, a robust plan which calls for 50,000 new STEM-H credentials earned by the end of his administration.
“This grant will help in our efforts to enhance Virginia’s high tech, high skilled sectors, which are vital to the growth and diversification of the New Virginia Economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This collaboration will send a strong signal to the emerging workforce of the immediate need for a credentialed, high-skilled labor force to meet today and tomorrow’s business needs.”
The NGA grant will support development of a statewide public awareness and marketing campaign; enhance data and analytical resources; encourage new and expanded public and private partnerships; and augment a policy agenda aimed at increasing enrollment and completion of STEM-H credentials.
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones was excited about the opportunity the grant provides. “This grant will allow Virginia to take a big step forward in terms of workforce development,” Secretary Jones said. “The program will help us to better align educational offerings with workforce needs while paving the way for a unified vision of a Commonwealth made stronger by a vibrant, highly-skilled workforce.”
“Now more than ever, Virginia needs an educational system fit for the 21st Century,” added Secretary of Education Anne Holton. “By bridging the divide between education and business and bolstering the Governor’s workforce initiative, these funds will help us do just that.”
“Virginia’s businesses are hungry for highly-skilled workers,” said Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor, Virginia Community College System. “And, Virginia’s Community Colleges are proud to be a part of a grant that will ultimately help more Virginians to find their way to the training and credentials they need for good jobs.”
Secretary Jones will lead the Virginia State Leadership Team, including representatives of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, business and industry, education at all levels, and economic and workforce development.