With record-low unemployment, Virginia has an enormous need for workers to fill an estimated 300,000 open jobs, according to Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has asked business and education leaders for transformational ideas that will help fill these jobs quickly.
It’s a daunting task. Not only is Virginia’s jobless rate just 2.5%, labor market participation rates cratered during the pandemic, and have not recovered. Today just 64% of working age Virginia adults are actively working or seeking a job.
“Virginia faces a unique moment,” said Virginia’s Community Colleges’ Interim Chancellor Sharon Morrissey. “Employers are desperate to hire and searching for qualified workers. Billions of dollars of economic activity in the commonwealth are at stake. To do our part to address the need, we’re proposing a plan we call HIRE Virginia.”
Dr. Morrissey presented HIRE Virginia to the Virginia Community College State Board last week, and the Board endorsed the plan unanimously.
“This program is a business-minded approach to accelerate the training, credentialing, and placement of Virginia residents in available, good-paying jobs,” said Board Chair Douglas Garcia. “The initiative focuses on unfilled middle-skill jobs, with the understanding that time is of the essence for their training and placement in open positions.”
HIRE Virginia in a Nutshell
HIRE Virginia seeks an investment from the state of $250 million over three years, including $44 million in the budget year that begins next July. The program will fill 75,000 open jobs across the Commonwealth with newly trained and qualified Virginia workers
HIRE Virginia’s Key Components
- Expand dual enrollment for high school graduates with credentialing for middle-skill jobs.
- Remove tuition barriers to train for specific, in-demand industry jobs and ramp up existing successful programs: FastForward, G3 and Virginia Ready.
- Provide financial support to students during learning to help with costs of childcare, transportation, books and more. And invest in more advisors and tutoring to help students succeed.
- Invest in modern labs, classrooms, and learning experiences. Replace outdated facilities, focusing on programs that will deliver workers to open jobs.
- Provide more career services and connect qualified students and employers through an online job matching portal, helping students who don’t know how to look for jobs and employers who are challenged to find qualified applicants.
- Expand internships, apprenticeships, and career placement, allowing employers to “test drive” new workers and students to learn on the job.
- Market HIRE Virginia through a dynamic and sustainable statewide campaign. Products and services succeed only if people know about them.
This story originally appeared on Virginia’s Community Colleges’ website.