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New workforce program to help small businesses train workers

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday a new $1 million program to help businesses with up to 250 employees provide training and credentialing for their workers.

The program is scheduled to launch June 1.

The Virginia Community College System will administer the program and will require Workforce Development Regions and local community colleges to work with small businesses in their local areas. 

These partnerships will develop workforce-training plans for the employees of participating small businesses, and then implement and evaluate training targeting employers’ needs. 

The program requires training funded by the new program to be tied to a national, portable workforce credential in a field that requires skills development and certifications, including manufacturing, energy, information technology, cybersecurity, health care, transportation, and logistics.

“Attaining Virginia’s goals for postsecondary education and workforce credentials will require new and innovative business-education partnerships,” Secretary of Education Anne Holton said in a statement.  “Bringing together employers, community colleges, and our One Stop Career Centers to expand opportunities for continued education and credentialing will help us reach the Governor’s goal to make the Commonwealth the Best Educated State in the U.S.” 

Funding for the new program will come out of the Governor’s set aside funds in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).

To expand the pool of resources available for training and credentialing, participating businesses and industries will contribute from 10 percent to 50 percent of the cost of the training, based on the business’s number of employees.

“We spoke with more than 1,500 business leaders across Virginia last year during 22 town hall meetings,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “And we heard from a lot of small business owners who have a tough time helping their employees stay up-to-date with their skills, finding qualified people to hire, and actually doing what their business does. We need more credentialed talent across the board, and this approach focuses resources in a smart way, providing an economic development resource for small companies already invested in their local communities.”

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