Investment Strategies and Recommendations – Workforce Development

January 28, 2020

Sixty percent of the Region 6’s workforce commutes out of the region every day to go to work. The challenge for the region is to develop strategies that will allow these commuters to work closer to home. The lower wage rates paid in the region are a deterrent to luring these commuters to work in the region illustrating the need for higher-wage employment opportunities.

According to the most recent sub-state occupational employment projections from the Virginia Employment Commission, between 2014 and 2024 Region 6 will experience approximately 5,980 job openings each year.

The region has a sufficient workforce to meet these needs, however, employers note there is a mismatch between the skills required by local employers and the training and education received by the local institutions that are not producing a workforce in the region to meet local needs.

Recommended Ways to Close the Workforce Gap:

  • Realign training and education programs to meet industry requirements. The education and training institutions within the region are encouraged to maintain a dialogue with employers in the priority industry clusters to determine their most needed training and educational requirements. As these needs and requirements are identified training/education programs will need to be modified to address them.
    • GO Virginia funding can be utilized to help develop these new programs. An example of this is GO Virginia Region 6’s Welding Training Program that awarded $130,000 in GO Virginia funding to equip a welding training facility with 15 workstations and train 40 welders for employment.
  • Expand Work-Based Learning Programs. Create a stronger emphasis on work-based learning experiences starting with programs in the local school divisions and continuing through the community college and university systems; increase the availability of programs such as apprenticeships, internships, career and technical education and credentialing; and increase the exposure to in-demand career options beginning in middle school and continue with work-based skills development in high school and in higher education institutions.
    • GO Virginia funding can be used to develop stronger connections between secondary education and the creation of higher-paying jobs in the traded sectors. Projects that demonstrate a direct line of sight to such job creation through student credentialing or work-based learning (internships and apprenticeship) will have the best alignment with GO Virginia. Projects that implement new curriculum or learning opportunities that directly align with the region’s targeted industries and include direct commitments from businesses will be prioritized.
  • Regional Educational Institutions Partner with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI)
  • Prioritize Occupational Career Paths in the Priority Industry Clusters. The ability of the region to meet the projected need for skilled workers in the priority industry clusters depends upon a system of education and training to know what those jobs are.
    • GO Virginia funding can assist in determining what these careers are through conducting a study on what high-wage careers fall into the clusters and are available in the region.
  • Regional Workforce and Technical Centers Expansion. As the need for jobs grow, areas to train workers as grows.
    • GO Virginia funding can be utilized to expand programs needed to train an educated and prepared workforce.

The workforce analysis completed in the 2019 Growth and Diversification Plan indicates that there may be a need to increase the annual number of completers from several technical certificate programs to meet current and future demand levels. The recommended ways above are just some ways Region 6 can meet the demands of their employers. However, GO Virginia requires the collaboration of at least two localities, political subdivisions, or public bodies corporate and politic, along with other public or private entities to apply for funding. If you are interested in applying for funding to help close the workforce gap in Region 6, please email Jennifer Morgan at morgan@gwregion.org.