Governor-elect Youngkin received the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s “Blueprint Virginia 2030” strategic plan recommendations on December 3, and stressed the need to boost economic growth and job creation in Virginia through closer collaboration between higher education institutions and Virginia’s business community on workforce development. The collaborative creation of affordable talent pathways from learning to earning for all Virginians is a top priority of Growth4VA, which helped to develop the Blueprint talent and workforce recommendations.
“We need a statewide vision for building Virginia’s talent supply to ensure it aligns with the current and future needs of employers, not just in Virginia as a whole, but with specific focus on regionally significant industries…,” the Governor-elect declared. “We need to support higher education partnerships with private industry that ensure students are graduating with the advanced degrees that are crucial to the economy, with an emphasis on STEM and other in-demand fields.”
Youngkin said the collaborative efforts must include “closing the educational, economic, and entrepreneurial gaps in Virginia.” He reiterated his support for providing additional state funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). He also expressed support for credentialing programs that require some postsecondary training but not a college degree.
“We want to give every Virginian a pathway to a good job,” Youngkin said, stressing the variety of routes to well-paying jobs that should be open to young Virginians, returning veterans, and other adults in need of new skills.
As he did often during the fall campaign, the Governor-elect highlighted two talent-related challenges that Growth4VA also has been emphasizing: misalignment and out-migration.
“We’ve got businesses across the Commonwealth seeing hundreds of thousands of open positions [and] we have many Virginians who don’t feel they have the skills…,” he said.
“As I campaigned across the Commonwealth, I talked about a Virginia that can lead the nation in job creation, with opportunity on the rise … a Virginia where our kids want to stay, where they can start out their careers, grow and enjoy their families, and eventually retire here.”
Virginia’s incoming governor made talent, job creation, and career readiness a focus in the “Day One Plan” he advanced as a candidate and is determined to implement in office.
He elaborated on the need for talent development, business-education partnerships on pathways, and work-based learning opportunities in a well-received speech to the annual higher education and workforce conference hosted by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (Growth4VA) and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Richmond on October 20.
Before seeking the governorship, Youngkin took the initiative to bring business and education together to help design and fund a streamlined upskilling pathway for unemployed adults displaced due to the pandemic. His nonprofit “VA Ready” initiative, implemented in partnership with the Virginia Community College System’s “Fast Forward” program, identifies prospective Virginia-based employers and partners with them to align skills training with their talent needs and to have them consider program completers for potential hiring.
Consistent with the new Governor’s emphasis, Growth4VA has called for affordable talent pathways to be the focus of higher education investment and innovation efforts in Virginia. Having an array of well-defined pathways that are developed collaboratively by Virginia employers and educational providers will empower young people and their parents as consumers and will help reverse the exodus of talent from Virginia. The pathways from education to employment will include paid internships and other work-based learning opportunities that connect students with potential employers while in school and make them more work-ready upon graduation. Developing and retaining talented young people who are entering the workforce while also creating affordable pathways for veterans and other adults to upgrade their skills are core strategies for addressing worker shortages in Virginia, making the Commonwealth more attractive for business investment and job creation, and growing the Virginia economy.
Growth4VA looks forward to working with Governor Youngkin on these vital priorities.