PATHWAYS TO THE AMERICAN DREAM
The New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board (NR/MR WDB) has been awarded $6 million from the United States Department of Labor as part of their America’s Promise initiative to enhance workforce development capacity through an education and training system that adapts quickly to the changing needs of businesses. The NR/MR WDB’s project, Pathways to the American Dream, is a four-year project that covers four Workforce Areas: Southwest Virginia, New River/Mount Rogers, Western Virginia, and West Piedmont, which includes the 33 jurisdictions in Planning Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 12. Pathways strives to decrease the reliance of skilled foreign workers under the H1-B visa program and leverage and align the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Through Pathways, we envision a Regional Workforce Collaborative that uses data and technology to enhance communication as well as develop and expand partnerships to increase opportunities for the people in the region. By providing an innovative career pathways training program, Pathways will build a pipeline of skilled workers to help employers fill existing job openings and meet job needs for expansion. Additionally, Pathways aims to enable the region to capitalize on the development of more value-added industries.
The Regional Workforce Collaborative will:
- Create a regional workforce strategy for sector partnerships in the Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Information Technology industries.
- Increase opportunities for un- and underemployed adults as well as incumbent workers to develop their skills and earn credentials in high-demand occupations.
- Guide education and training partners in closing the gap between the skills needed by workers and the skills of the available workforce, expanding the affordability of workforce training and credentialing, and increasing the interest in technician, technologist, and trade-level positions to fill available and emerging jobs.
- Guide education and training partners in developing a system that awards academic credit applicable to the student’s certificate or degree program requirements to students who demonstrate competency through a Prior Learning Assessment system.
- Provide research and best-practices so Virginia legislators can adopt policies for creating, sustaining, and scaling sector partnerships to generate innovative programming that closes skill gaps and leads to employment in technical and professional level demand occupations.
Pathways’ Proposed Impacts:
Impact on the Individual and Family: Low-skilled people with barriers will have opportunities to develop their skills, earn credentials, increase their earning potential, and prepare for and transition into employment in occupations with livable wages.
Impact on Business and Industry: Employers will have access to skilled employees to remain competitive and grow.
Impact on the Economy: Skilled workers will contribute to the economy and allow the region to capitalize on the development of more value-added industries.