Virginia Western Community College will pursue some of the $5 million allocated to schools by Gov. Ralph Northam to restructure workforce training programs.
Northam announced the initiative Tuesday. The money is part of federal workforce discretionary funds, and will be used to support “a collaborative effort to transform workforce programs offered through the Virginia Community College System.”
Currently, many community college programs designed to train students with applied skills require them to take general education courses before advancing to essential skills-based courses. To best prepare students with the skills needed for high-demand, well-paying jobs, the community college system will work to restructure career pathways to ensure skills training begins at the start of each program, according to the governor’s office.
“Completion shouldn’t be the only measure of success at the community college level — it should also be defined by securing a good job,” Northam said in a news release. “We can and should prepare students with high-demand skills the moment they enter the community college system, and ensure that they have a foundation that will yield success at several points over the course of the program, including if they leave with a job before completion.”
Virginia Western and all other colleges in the system will compete for a portion of the funding, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. The money will be used by colleges to “rethink how they will do business and support students as well as current and future companies,” according to the governor’s office. Businesses will endorse each pathway to ensure curricula align to 21st century needs, the news release states.
“What we’re announcing today will enhance our traditional applied programs, making them attractive to those seeking to stack earned credentials and further their careers,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System.
Josh Meyer, spokesman for Virginia Western in Roanoke, said the college is “very interested” in applying for the funds, based on a desire to refine its current “stackable pathways” for students, or establish new ones.
Virginia Western administrators took part in a conference call Tuesday with state officials regarding the funding, Meyer said. “From what they heard, the industry sectors this program is going to be focused on are information technology, computer science, health care, manufacturing, trades, public safety and early childhood education,” he said.
Meyer said the college’s proposal is due to the state Jan. 3.