On August 13, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe released a new workforce initiative aimed at preparing the state’s residents for middle-skill jobs. As NSC Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen told the Washington Post, the initiative’s focus on middle-skill jobs is a smart way to target investments to get more people into work. Middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, accounted for 49 percent of all jobs in Virginia in 2012.
The New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, established by Executive Order, seeks to add 50,000 credentials in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health (STEM-H) to Virginia’s economy. The Executive Order sets out several action items that are aligned with NSC’s strategies for improving state policies around data and credentials:
- Several state agencies and all local workforce investment boards must analyze regional industry needs and develop strategies for increasing in-demand credentials. The State Council for Higher Education will host an online scorecard to track progress toward the initiative’s credential goal.
- The Secretary of Commerce and Trade must approve a plan for implementing common performance metrics for all publicly-funded workforce programs.
- The state will create a consortium to provide data on regional skills gaps, wages and the availability of workforce programs so that policymakers can better align workforce strategies and investments with the labor market.
- The Virginia Employment Commission, in partnership with other agencies in the workforce system, will develop an online dashboard to provide information on the supply of workforce credentials.
The initiative also seeks to use career pathways to assist dislocated, underemployed and future workers. Career pathways make it easier for workers to earn postsecondary credentials by aligning adult basic education, ESL, job training, higher education and basic support systems.
Photo credit: Miller Center (CC 2.0)