College Enrollment and Virginia’s Future

There’s an interesting story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch about lessons state leaders are learning from the recent successful efforts to convince Rolls-Royce  to locate a new facility in the commonwealth.

Company officials also handed the state a suggestion: The fragmented arrangement among state agencies for developing and educating workers needs fixing.

“Trying to explain 28 different programs in 12 different agencies — that is not a program, that is a nightmare,” said Jay A. Langston, senior research manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which recruits businesses to Virginia and was involved in the Rolls-Royce deal.

“And essentially they told us that.”

Also mentioned was the role Virginia’s Community Colleges and other institutions are playing in the deal:

The state also is putting increased emphasis on technical training programs, and Morris noted that the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the Virginia Community College system will be actively involved in the Rolls-Royce project, creating two research centers, new professorships, internships and training programs.

What’s even more interesting are comments from Tom Morris, Virginia’s education secretary about a growing threat to the commonwealth’s business reputation:

A larger issue, Morris said, is that only about a third of Virginians ages 18-24 are in post-secondary education, which is below the national average. “If Virginia does not do a better job preparing its students to move into post-secondary education, we will not have the work force that we need,” he said.

Other business people at the conference sounded similar concerns.

You have to wonder how long Virginia can remain America’s “Best State for Business” if that trend continues?

Posted by Jeff Kraus

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