State program to aid small businesses with advanced job training

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.”

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Elisha Sauers, 757-222-3864, elisha.sauers@pilotonline.com Follow @elishasauers on Twitter.



Governor Highlights OppInc.’s Role In New Workforce Initiative – April 12, 2016

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Opportunity Inc. of Hampton Roads was recognized April 12, 2016 as an important player alongside Tidewater Community College as part of Governor McAuliffe’s (Governor of Virginia) announcement — highlighting a $1 million Incumbent Workforce Credentialing Program to assist small business in their efforts to improve the occupational and technical skills of their workers. We look forward to a continued partnership with Tidewater Community College, as we work collaboratively to develop a strong and vibrant workforce in Hampton Roads!



Veterans get valuable advice at Norfolk job workshop

By: Linda Lamm English
The Virginian Pilot, February 5, 2016

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A panel of employers answers questions at an After TAP workshop at the Opportunity Inc. One-Stop Workforce Center on Glenrock Road.
(Linda Lamm English)

Are you leaving the military? Or maybe you’re already a veteran, but do you need a job?

“It’s not the end of the world. You just need the right information,” Michael Hunter said.

He should know. Hunter is ex-Navy and a career services coordinator at the Opportunity Inc. One-Stop Workforce Center on Glenrock Road, one of 2,500 nonprofits across the country funded by the Department of Labor.

Mark Buehlman, an Army veteran and career developer for Opportunity Inc., told visitors to a Jan. 29 workshop about an array of free services for job-seeking veterans. They range from learning how to write a resume to applying for grants that pay for training or education.

Hunter and Buehlman specialize in assisting veterans. Among other things, they help translate military experience into marketable skills and connect veterans with companies particularly interested in employing them. They organize a workshop called “After TAP,” at the workforce center on the last Friday of every month.

The Transition Assistance Program was once provided by the military. When it was discontinued, Opportunity Inc. began offering an enhanced version of the service for active duty personnel getting ready to retire, activated members of the National Guard and Reserve, military spouses and veterans.

According to Latonya English, deputy director for the organization, what holds most job applicants back is “not being well-informed. It’s the most helpful thing,” she said.

“I’ve been writing my resume the wrong way,” Jason Linscott learned. He appreciated honest answers to his questions and said the experience was very educational.

Linscott left the Navy as a sonar technician in 1998 to get a college education, then re-enlisted as an officer in 2003. Now a Navy pilot, he will retire next month and wants a job as a project manager or operations and maintenance manager.

A panel at the workshop represented companies such as Sentara Healthcare, Newport News Shipbuilding, Sorrentino Mariani and Top Guard Security. They explained why they believe veterans have a lot to offer.

Veterans understand teamwork, they said, and show up every day, on time, focused on the job. They are respectful, good with customers and don’t cause problems.

“Almost anybody E6 and above has done planning and scheduling,” one of the panelists pointed out.

The panel answered questions about security clearances and background checks, resumes versus applications, how criminal records affect hiring, and what getting turned down for being “overqualified” can really mean: Someone else just as qualified can be hired for less.

“Sometimes a veteran will say, ‘I’ve done this, this and this, and I know I’m worth this,’” English said. “Culture shock” sets in when they find out that wages are sometimes lower than expected. Then there is the cost of benefits that were once free.

Advice from the panel: The market should be researched and understood before applying for a job, and “don’t apply for something you can’t live on. The starting salary will not be jumped 10, 15, or 20 thousand dollars when you come in the door.”

Other gems from the panel: “We need to get over ourselves – we can be our biggest obstacle. All that really matters is what the employer wants.”

Here’s an important one: Apply only if you meet the requirements, as in college degrees – though experience can sometimes take the place of a degree if it is preferred rather than required.

“When people enter the military, they go to boot camp. It takes time to learn to be in the military. It also takes time for them to learn to be civilians,” said Nancy Stephens, director of Opportunity Inc.

“We teach them how to sell their value to an employer,” she said.

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Linda Lamm English, lindalamm@cox.net



Job search workshop for veterans to be held in Norfolk

By: Jennifer Mason
The Virginian Pilot, December 21, 2015

A free job search workshop for veterans will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at 861 Glenrock Road, Suite 100 in Norfolk.

Opportunity Inc. Veterans Services and its partners will discuss veterans’ employment initiatives and military-friendly employers. Other workshop topics include the federal application process, entrepreneurial grants and veteran benefits.

Opportunity Inc., also known as the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, oversees federally funded workforce-development programs.

In order to attend, you must be an armed forces veteran, serving in the National Guard or reserves or an active-duty member with less than three months of service left. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of their resume.

Seats are limited, according to a news release. To register, email mhunter@hamptonroadsworks.org or mbuehlman@hamptonroadsworks.org.