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State gets workforce development grants

By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer

West Virginia is one of 14 states receiving grants and support to expand workforce education and training programs from the National Governors Association, the NGA announced Thursday.

West Virginia will receive $10,000 in grants and assistance from the NGA Center for Best Practices.

The workforce education and training program is part of the NGA’s effort to align education systems and training systems to meet the needs of a state’s economy.

Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington were also awarded grant funds and support from the NGA.

“West Virginia workforce projections indicate 44 [percent] of job openings in the next 10 years will require more than a high school education, but less than a four-year degree,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a press release. “Our middle schools and community and technical colleges are adapting curriculum to meet the needs of new and expanding businesses in the Mountain State, and this partnership will give us the opportunity to collaborate with leaders and other states across the country to expand our current training programs while supporting companies investing in West Virginia.”

Chris Stadelman, director of communications for Gov. Tomblin, said the grant will work in various ways to better connect education with workforce needs. He said the NGA identified two challenges the state’s workforce is facing -- not training and educating people for the jobs available in the state and too many students failing to complete secondary and post-secondary programs.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, area community colleges, the West Virginia Department of Education, WorkForce West Virginia, Tomblin’s office and private businesses will work together using education and workforce data to identify what education policy should be to supply the kinds of workers that businesses in the state need, Stadelman said.

The program will work in all areas of the education system, he added.

“As early as elementary, we want to try and make sure we get people on the right track,” Stadelman said.

Stadelman said the oil and gas industry is growing in the state and Tomblin’s office is already working to try and supply the workers.

“By increasing the number of citizens with a postsecondary degree or relevant workforce certificate, more people will have access to the middle class and beyond, companies will have a better prepared workforce and states will benefit from a stronger economy,” the NGA press release states.

A postsecondary degree or relevant workforce is the “new minimum” for the future workforce to meet the demands of the emerging job market, according to the NGA.

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5113 or follow @caitlincookWV on Twitter.


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