Our Agenda

Talent-to-Opportunity Leadership

Becoming the best at affordable talent pathways

Becoming the best in the nation at affordable talent pathways will put Virginia on the leading edge of one of the most significant educational and economic innovations in decades, make the Commonwealth a magnet for talented young people and business investment, and providing the skilled workforce needed to fuel business growth and job creation in all regions of the state.

The impact on individual opportunity and upward mobility for Virginians — particularly for first-generation, minority, and economically disadvantaged young adults and unemployed or under-employed adults — will be truly transformational.

Our 4 Major Strategies

Talent, Affordability, Innovation & Opportunity

Four strategic investments will help achieve the goal of talent-to-opportunity leadership. Developed collaboratively by higher ed and business leaders, they align with SCHEV’s “Pathways to Opportunity” strategic plan, the Virginia Chamber’s “Blueprint Virginia” planning process, VEDP’s emphasis on talent as a competitive differentiator, GO Virginia’s data-driven focus on regional workforce needs, and recent bipartisan investments in talent development and affordable access by the General Assembly and Governor. They are:

TALENT

We are urging Virginia’s leaders to seize the opportunity to make Virginia the top state for talent by creating a diverse array of accessible pathways from learning to earning.

When educators and employers in an industry or region collaborate to develop career-focused pathways, they align curricula so graduates gain the education and skills employers need, and they provide students with paid internships and other applied learning experiences that prepare them for the workplace, often supplying connections that lead to full-time employment. The Commonwealth should commit to providing such an opportunity to every Virginia student who wants one. By connecting students to Virginia-based employers while they are still in college, we can reverse the post-graduation outmigration of talent that threatens Virginia families and communities and worsens worker shortages and skills gaps that impede business growth. The best way for Virginia to stay the best state for business is to become the best educated state and the best provider of pathways that turn talent into opportunity.

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AFFORDABILITY

We believe access to higher education leads to economic opportunity, and that all Virginians should be able to afford the education that suits their aspirations and abilities.

Making affordable and equitable access a reality for many low- and middle-income Virginians requires a significant increase in student financial aid, alternative pathways to credentials, remedying the digital divide, and closing gaps in access and completion by race, income, and other factors. Despite recent bipartisan efforts, the biggest obstacle to affordable college tuition in Virginia remains the Commonwealth’s chronic underfunding of higher education, with a level of per-student support that is now far below most neighboring states and one of the 12 lowest in the country. We support major investments that will ease the tuition burden on Virginians by honoring the state’s commitment to pay two-thirds of higher education costs. These investments, with collaborative innovations and efficiencies at all levels, can keep degrees and other valuable credentials within reach for all Virginians.

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INNOVATION

We believe higher ed has a crucial role to play in enhancing entrepreneurship, resilience, and quality of life through research and problem-solving innovation.

By attracting more federally and privately sponsored research and strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem in each region, we can boost startup enterprises and help more Virginians take innovative new processes and products to market. We should invest in making our colleges and universities hubs for resilience, leading collaborative efforts to improve the readiness and resilience of our communities, commonwealth, and nation in the face of a daunting array of growing threats. We have learned much from the pandemic that will transform the delivery of essential services, from health care to education. Virginia’s colleges and their forward-looking leaders should be in the forefront of these transformative developments, sharing innovative ideas nationally and leading by example.

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OPPORTUNITY

We believe higher ed is the key to greater individual opportunity — for a great job, career, life, and to give back in ways that improve our families, communities, state and nation.

Most opportunities in the new economy require some form of postsecondary education, making it vital to empower students and parents as higher education consumers by providing transparent, practical information on educational and career opportunities, cost, and return on investment. Through our top-ranked higher education system, a sustained investment in liberal arts education and affordable talent pathways will prepare Virginians of diverse backgrounds for lifelong success and contributions as citizens, leaders, and problem-solvers who tackle our toughest challenges.

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Read the Growth4VA
Policy Agenda

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Growth4VA is a campaign of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council