By: Elisha Sauers
Inside Business, April 12, 2016
A new $1 million statewide program starting June 1 will help small businesses offer job training to advance their employees’ careers.
The initiative, called the Incumbent Workforce Credentialing Program, will pay a portion of employers’ costs to allow their workers to earn certifications and occupational licenses.
The initiative is part of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s goal to get 50,000 Virginia workers credentialed in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or health care fields each year. He hopes to make the state the most “educated,” measuring that through licenses, degrees and other certifications, by 2030.
“This is not rocket science,” said McAuliffe, who announced the rollout of the program at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk on Tuesday. “The more we invest in education, the stronger our workforce development. (It) gives me a better ability to recruit companies from around the globe to come here. They hire people, they pay taxes and guess what – I get to invest more in education, workforce development.”
Depending on the size of a business’ staff, the state would chip in between 50 and 90 percent of the cost. Companies with up to 250 employees are eligible to access the program.
The money for the program will come from federal funds for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act.
Virginia’s Community College System will oversee the program. Starting this week, the schools will seek proposals from regional workforce development boards, which are responsible for helping interested companies craft a training plan and apply for the money.
Elizabeth Creamer, the governor’s adviser for workforce development, said the program is mutually beneficial for workers, who may be able to advance in their careers with additional credentials.
“No matter what happens with that company, those individual workers will have something to make them more marketable,” she said.
If the latest program is successful, Creamer said, the state would like to add more money to the pot.
Shawn Avery, president and CEO of Hampton Roads’ workforce board Opportunity Inc., said the organization expects to receive more details this week on how to prioritize funding requests from interested employers.
With only $1 million to spread throughout the state, it could be very competitive.
“We’ll be aggressively applying for this money,” Avery said. “I’m sure a lot of people will be going for it.”
Elisha Sauers, 757-222-3864, firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @elishasauers on Twitter.