Community colleges, businesses partner to get Virginians back to work
Virginia Ready Initiative participants receive $1K stipends, interview opportunities
The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready) announced Monday a program that will provide stipends for unemployed Virginians to attend community college programs in an effort to find new industry jobs and overcome coronavirus-related economic hardships.
“We have people who need work and companies who need employees, so Virginia’s community colleges and employers are coming together to help,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “If you choose a high-demand field, our community colleges will train you and then Virginia Ready will help you find a job and give you a $1,000 achievement award. This is one more way that Virginia is demonstrating that helping workers also helps business and our economy.”
VA Ready and its 20 Virginia business partners will provide $1,000 incentives for motivated, out-of-work Virginians to reskill for high-demand jobs by attending short-term community college programs. Participants would also be offered the opportunity to interview with participating Virginia companies.
VA Ready aims to complement the Virginia Community College System’s existing FastForward program, which provides Virginians with the opportunity and training for middle-skill jobs. The VA Ready initiative will provide short-term training programs through Virginia’s 23 community colleges and will be funded through philanthropic donations and company contributions.
“With an average out-of-pocket cost of just over $1,000, our FastForward training programs are the most affordable option in higher education today and the fastest way for someone to skill-up for a career that offers family-sustaining wages,” VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois said in a statement. “But we know that price tag is still out of reach for too many people, especially the newly unemployed. We are pleased to work alongside VA Ready and its business partners to make those training opportunities more affordable and accessible — and get people back to work.”
Since the pandemic began, almost 875,000 Virginians have filed initial unemployment claims, with lower-wage earners and minority communities being the hardest-hit.
“Too many Virginians have lost their jobs, and they want to, and deserve help to, retool for in-demand jobs,” Glenn A. Youngkin, VA Ready co-founder and chairman, said in a statement. “The time is now to focus training efforts on equipping our workforce for Virginia’s dynamic sectors like technology, health care and the skilled trades. Virginia businesses in these sectors expect to hire tens of thousands of people in the coming years, and yet we have record unemployment. We need to get moving to get people ready.”
VA Ready’s founding partners, strategic partners and business partners include:
- Carilion Clinic, Roanoke
- Dominion Energy Inc., Richmond
- Ernst & Young LLP, locations in McLean and Richmond
- Genworth Financial, Richmond
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), locations in Arlington and Richmond
- SAIC, Reston
- Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean
- CoStar Group, location in Richmond
- K12 Inc., Herndon
- Perspecta, Chantilly
- Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk
- 1901 Group, Reston
- Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Richmond
- CNSI, locations in Tysons and Chesapeake
- General Dynamics Corp., Reston
- Harris Williams, Richmond
- Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News
- ManTech International Corp., Fairfax
- Maximus Inc., Reston
- Northrop Grumman Corp., Falls Church
“1901 Group looks forward to working closely with VA Ready to strengthen our economy, support career pathways and fulfill thousands of open positions by identifying, training and employing Virginians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” 1901 Group CEO Sonu Singh said in a statement “VA Ready’s vision aligns closely with 1901 Group’s 10-year track record of developing sustainable IT jobs in regions such as Southwest Virginia.”
VA Ready business partners will consult college leaders to ensure program offerings will be relevant to industry needs. They will also participate in the VA Ready Job Exchange, providing job interview opportunities to those who go through the program.
The first VA Ready Scholars program will begin after Aug. 1.
“Virginia’s strength lies in its people, and so many people have come together over the past few weeks to stand up this new initiative so quickly,” VA Ready CEO Caren Merrick said in a statement. “By working together, thousands of our out of work Virginians will be able to secure new jobs, and Virginia businesses will find more of the skilled workers they need.”