RICHMOND– Southside Virginia Community College is an integral part of a new program announced by Governor Terry McAuliffe this week. The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) has launched a new advanced manufacturing training program for active duty soldiers preparing for the civilian workforce and veterans who have recently transitioned to civilian life. The program is a collaboration amongst the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC), Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), the Crater Regional Workforce Investment Board (Crater WIB), the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), the Fort Lee Soldier for Life Program and 180 Skills, an online career and technical education curriculum provider.
About the announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “This new workforce program for active duty soldiers and veterans is an outstanding example of the power of public and private partnerships to drive state and regional workforce solutions that will help build the new Virginia economy. CCAM and our institutions of higher education in Southern Virginia have collaborated to establish short term, intensive training that creates opportunities for high-value certifications and job interviews upon completion.”
“SVCC is excited about the opportunity to host this innovative pilot program,” said Dr. Al Roberts, President of SVCC. “The success of this effort is in large part due to the collaborative efforts of statewide partners who have shared their time, expertise and resources.”
“This is exactly the type of workforce solution that the Governor called for in Executive Order 23,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “By working together as a team, state and regional partners are delivering these ‘Credentials to Compete’ for well-paying, available jobs. By offering the training to active duty soldiers in the months preceding their transition from the service, the program offers our soldiers a seamless transition from active duty status to civilian employment.”
The pilot program is located at SVCC’s Center located in Greensville County. The program includes 162 modules of customized, interactive online learning and 260 hours of project-based hands-on training in advanced manufacturing principles and practices. The instruction will prepare soldiers and veterans for as many as six highly marketable National Institute for Metalworking (NIMs) certifications.
“Keeping the military’s talent pool of transitioning soldiers in Virginia and primed for high-demand manufacturing jobs is exactly the type of training CCAM and the Virginia Tobacco Commission had in mind when the Centers of Manufacturing Excellence were established,” said Dr. Betty Adams, Executive Director of the SVHEC.
Virginia Senator Frank Ruff, Chair of the Tobacco Commission’s Education Committee, initially approached CCAM with the idea to train veterans.
“The plan was for the newly established Advanced Manufacturing Centers of Excellence at SVHEC to be utilized to give this highly skilled and disciplined population the necessary tools to ensure a successful transition to civilian life - as well as talent for companies seeking a highly skilled and mature workforce,” said Senator Ruff. “Our military men and women have learned good work habits as they have served our nation. They can provide the same work ethic and problem solving to Virginia's manufacturing employers.”
The Fort Lee’s Soldier for Life Program worked with the VEC to identify a pilot group of transitioning soldiers and veterans to participate. Training is provided at no cost to students or employers, thanks to funding provided by the Crater Regional WIB under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), which is designed to help job seekers access education, training, and support services to succeed in the workplace. More than 15 Virginia manufacturing companies will interview the pilot program graduates when they earn their NIMs certifications in late August.
“Traditional training programs are often taught in 16-week semesters, but Fort Lee soldiers have the unique opportunity to pursue training during the last three months of their enlistment. Creating a condensed certification training program that takes advantage of a time frame when soldiers are still on active duty gives the soldiers greater opportunities to seamlessly transition into the civilian workforce,” said Bruce Sobczak, Workforce Director of CCAM. “Soldiers receive two-and-a-half years of training in approximately five months through a hybrid online and hands-on laboratory program.”
CCAM and its partners plan to use the program as a model for other Virginia regions and nationally. New training locations near other Virginia military installations will be identified, and a second skills training curriculum in industrial maintenance will be developed.