Tag Archives: workforce training

Virginia’s Community Colleges are focused on workforce needs through the recession and beyond

The Lynchburg News & Advance printed an editorial today that looks at the needs of Virginia’s workforce through the current recession and beyond.

Despite the sour national and global economies, things will turn around, hopefully sooner rather than later. When the economic clouds part, the American worker had better be ready for an even more competitive world.

The editorial explains how Virginia’s Community Colleges, while working through the recession and the government budget challenges that spin-off from it, are focused on the global competitiveness that Virginia communities and employers will need to succeed in the long run.

The commonwealth, in the short run, is facing a budget shortfall of enormous proportions; long term, though, the shortfall in education and competitiveness are of mammoth proportions. Working with private industry, the community college system, in the last decade, has implemented a number of programs and partnerships designed to address the educational challenges the state faces.

The start of the 2009 session of the General Assembly is only weeks away, and the specter of a $3.2 billion shortfall looms over the state Capitol. Now is not the time, though, for Virginia’s leaders to short shrift the future.  

Bad economies are ugly and painful, but the only way to minimize their impact is to ensure that individuals and companinies in Virginia are creating and attracting job opportunities and that requires the cutting edge skills and knowledge that more than half a million people are getting through academic and workforce training programs every year at Virginia’s Community Colleges.

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Virginia’s Community Colleges are helping the U.S. Navy spread American know-how across the world

You know that frustration you get when you buy something only to bring it home and find it has no directions for assembly or usage, or even better, it has those text-free hieroglyphic instructions with random arrows suggesting a twist here and a snap there?  Good taste requires me not to mention the colorful words that  such “helpful” directions can inspire.

But imagine if someone came to you, worked with you to get it working right and even checked back with you awhile later to ensure there were no lingering problems – how wonderful would that be?

Well, Rappahannock Community College is working with the United States Navy, training sailors to do just that for the military personnel of friendly nations who purchase and use American equipment, according to this story in the Rappahannock Record:

After their training is complete, the Expeditionary Forces, in teams of five to ten trainers, travel to their host countries to assess the foreign troops’ skills, develop training programs, and, after weeks of mentoring, return for periodic refreshers and progress reports.

They function as trainers and as ambassadors. Representing the United States to other countries, they deliver cultural as well as technical lessons.

Today’s geopolitical challenges are numerous and complex.  It’s hard to say what implication this partnership carries in the way of global peace and stability.  After all, we are so far talking only about a handful of people to complete the training course.  But it’s telling that when the U.S. Navy needed high-quality workforce training skills and the ability to teach them to others, they came knocking on the door of a Virginia Community College.

Posted by Jeff Kraus

Community colleges: a critical link for community success

Community Colleges are a critical connection between the success of individual students, employers and the communities they share.  That’s the message splashed across Sunday’s edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch op/ed page.

Marshall Smith, the president of John Tyler Community College published a piece about his college’s workforce training programs.  It’s an interesting read, especially if you aren’t up to speed on how community colleges are connecting young people, who don’t know what they want to do, and employers seeking qualified people to hire for good-paying jobs.

Many high school students, parents, and counselors are simply unaware of the lucrative careers available to those who pursue two-year degrees in fields as diverse as mechanical engineering, information technology, and funeral services.

In a conversation between RTD editors and Eugene Trani, president of Virginia Commonwealth University and Gary Rhodes, president of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, that essential link between higher education access and community success was further explored.

President Trani identified community college transfer students as an important piece of that access puzzle.

Trani: Our community-college transfer students who enroll with more than 30 hours from the community college do as well as our native, first-time freshman in terms of retention rates. We love the community colleges. I think that is a good on-ramp.

Rhodes: Let me piggy back on something that President Trani said about the partnership between VCU and Reynolds. The phrase he used was “on-ramp.” The community college mission has 3 parts: (1) its transfer to 4-year colleges and universities; (2) it’s career programs — we have about 80 programs, whether you want to be a nurse, an automotive technician, or work in electronics; and (3) the third part is work-force development.

You can read the longer conversation by clicking on this link.

For more information on how Virginia’s Community Colleges are serving the three missions Rhodes identified, visit our website.

Posted by Jeff Kraus

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