Joint Subcommittee to Study Noncredit Education for
Workforce Training in Virginia
November 10, 1997, Herndon
Offering a "Blueprint for Technology-Based
Economic Growth in Virginia," the director of the Center for
Innovative Technology (CIT) cited the work of a 1997 technology
summit sponsored by CIT, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and
the Virginia Technology Council that combined six regions,
seven technology sectors, and 600 business leaders. Described as
the "driving force" of Virginia's economy, the technology sector
in the Commonwealthencompassing aerospace,
biotechnology, electronics, high-performance manufacturing, information
technology and telecommunications, and energy and
environmental industriesis reflected in 2,450 companies,
employing 290,000 workers and generating $13.8 billion in wages in 1996.
Growing at a rate tripling that of the overall economy, the
technology sector in Virginia is expected to expand to an
estimated 4,000 companies, 330,000 workers, and $22 billion in wages
in 2002. Sixty-three percent of the growth in Virginia's gross
state product in the last five years can be linked to
high-technology industries and technology workers. The information
technology industry now reports 190,000 job vacancies, a number
that is expected to double over the next five years. Northern
Virginia alone reports 19,000 technology job vacancies,
representing over $850 million in lost wages.
Citing a significant mismatch between workplace
requirements and skills of the available workforce, the CIT
director noted that superior systems of higher education and
public schools are "vital" to the future of the technology industry
in Virginia. Among the recommendations offered to meet the
demand for technology workers:
That 15 High Skills Workforce Development Centers,
called for by the Virginia Technology Summit's Blueprint for
Technology-Based Economic Growth in Virginia, be established
in the next 10 years to coordinate specific high-skill training
needs of particular regions and industries, that oversight for
these centers be vested in 11-member regional advisory boards
appointed by the Governor, and that a statewide Workforce
Training Advisory Board, consisting of the chairs of the
regional boards, be established to coordinate the activities of the centers.
Included among the centers' work would be arranging for
local skills assessments and job counseling for workers seeking
retraining; coordinating an annual survey of regional
high-skills training needs; soliciting proposals from community
colleges, four-year institutions, and proprietary schools to meet
identified needs and determining and "certifying" which
respondents offered adequate training; awarding "certificates of
completion" to participants in these programs; and apprising local
business of these services. Individual centers could be designated as
a "Center for Excellence" for particular specialized
training; Net.Work.Virginia, the ATM broadband communications
system serving the Commonwealth, would assist in
transmitting these classes to other sites.
That each community college serving as a regional
High Skills Workforce Development Center be appropriated
$325,000 each year to support center operations, supplemented
by $150,000 in cash or in-kind contributions from local
governments or businesses in the region served, and that an
additional $500,000 be appropriated in the second year of the biennium
to the center designated as the first Center for Excellence.
That the Virginia Community College System (VCCS)
be designated as the state agency with primary responsibility
for the Commonwealth's high skills workforce training and
development, act as the administrative arm of the High
Skills Workforce Development Centers, and provide staff support
to Regional Advisory Boards.
That the Commonwealth appropriate $5.4 million in
the next biennium ($1.8 million in the first year and $3.6
million in the second year) to fund overhead costs for certified
training programs offered by a community college.
That any entity, public or private, within the
Commonwealth be eligible to provide worker assessment and training.
That a tuition guarantee loan program for workforce
training be established.
Also noted was the goal of tripling the number of
graduates in engineering and computer science and training all
students in technology over the next five years.
VCCS proposals for workforce training initiatives
included the following recommendations:
That the VCCS establish a statewide advisory council
comprised of business and industry representatives from all
regions of the Commonwealth to advise the State Board for
Community Colleges regarding short-term, five-year, and ten-year
plans for statewide workforce development. The plans would
identify current and future workforce needs as well as potential
"markets" for increasing the number of workers available to
business and industry.
That Virginia's community colleges be equipped to
deliver quality core workforce services and programs throughout
the Commonwealth through workforce development centers and
the implementation of rapid response teams and local advisory
councils at each community college. The local advisory
councils would certify to a statewide council those programs and
courses for which state funding has been provided or requested
pursuant to guidelines established by the State Board for
Community Colleges/Statewide Advisory Council.
That the Commonwealth provide funding for lead
Institutes of Excellence where needed at Virginia's community
colleges to provide selected specialized services to meet particular
regional needs or to meet statewide training or curriculum
development needs through distance learning, and that these
institutes address major business sectors, such as information
technologies, semi-conductors, and high performance
That the Virginia Community College System be
recognized in statute and funding policy as the state agency with the
lead role within the workforce development continuum for
training and retraining the workforce.
That the Commonwealth provide funding for workforce
development administrators at each community college
campus, based upon enrollment as well as business and industry needs.
That the Commonwealth provide community colleges
funds equivalent to 30 percent of the prior year's non-general
fund revenue collections for non-credit workforce instruction.
That the current funding practice for the
Commonwealth's community colleges be amended to include non-credit FTEs
in the calculation of community college space and
instructional equipment needs.
Virginia Economic Development Partnership
The deputy director of the Virginia Economic
Development Partnership recommended that a retraining program
meeting the needs of Virginia's basic employers be created within
and administered by the Department of Business Assistance to
offer training modules supported by a team of representatives of
Virginia business, VCCS, and the Workforce Services
Program within the department and that this program be supported
by $10 million in general funds.
This initiative would focus on needs common to
multiple industries or companies. An equivalent funding match
would be required by each company participating in the
training; trainee wages would not be included in the match. The
training would likely take place at community college
campuses, although company training facilities might be used as well.
Acceptance into the training program would be contingent
upon a company training needs assessment and job analysis, as
appropriate, conducted through the community college system.
Funding for this initiative would support instructional
costs, community college fees, training materials, and consultants.
The $10 million appropriation would support skills
upgrade training for about 12,000 to 15,000 Virginians a year.
Discussion focused on leveraging the Commonwealth's
existing resources to provide a comprehensive approach
to workforce training, the expansion of Net.Work.Virginia,
and the assessment of future needs as well as upgrading the skills
of current workers.
The joint subcommittee expects to consider these
proposals and their potential coordination to develop final
recommendations for the 1998 Session of the General Assembly.
The Honorable Alan A. Diamonstein, Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Kathleen G. Harris