Virginia’s Community Colleges are gearing up to train thousands of workers to help rebuild the commonwealth’s aging roads and bridges. The Virginia Infrastructure Academy (VIA) will coordinate, scale up and replicate successful infrastructure-related community college training programs. The goal is to produce a total of 35,000 qualified workers over the next five years.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act commits $1.2 trillion nationwide in the next five years for transportation, clean water, solar and wind energy, expansion of affordable broadband and more. Virginia is poised to receive at least $10 billion, but much more is expected to come through other measures.
According to labor market analytics firm EMSI, Virginia companies already are struggling to fill more than 100,000 infrastructure jobs.
“The availability of a trained, skilled workforce continues to stand out as a significant challenge to infrastructure construction and maintenance industries,” said Dr. Sharon Morrissey, interim chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Through the VIA initiative, we will continue to leverage resources, expand collaboration and provide short-term industry training leading to employment for thousands of Virginians.”
The VIA aligns community colleges with business leaders to ensure that existing training programs are addressing community needs and forecasting future requirements for expansion. 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.
“This is vital to the success of many Virginia businesses,” said George “Bryan” Slater, Virginia Secretary of Labor. “Our infrastructure workforce demands are growing daily, and initiatives like the Virginia Infrastructure Academy will help ensure that skilled and qualified people are available for hire, leading to a best-in-class workforce in Virginia.”
The Lumina Foundation is funding the VIA’s start-up costs with a two-year, $400,000 grant.
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.
To learn more, visit vccs.edu/via.