Posted on Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Workforce WednesdayForrest Whitney is a man who doesn’t like idle hands. So, when he lost his job in the closure of Radford’s Grede Foundry, he was anxious to find a new opportunity. That’s when he discovered that he was eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA) funding that would help him become a student in New River Community College’s (NRCC) PluggedInVA industrial maintenance program.

TAA is a federal program that assists U.S. workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. It provides those workers with benefits and services to help them obtain skills to become reemployed.

PluggedInVA programs are specially designed to prepare adult learners with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in education, training, and high-wage contemporary careers.


Forrest Whitney (right) and his son-in-law Steven Felix strike a pose during a welding class.

After years in the U.S. Navy, Whitney went on to work for various industrial companies and became a truck driver. His entrance to NRCC in January is the 50-year-old’s first experience with college and he hopes the skills he’s learning will help him find a job close to home and his wife, two children, and five grandchildren.

Today, Whitney is anything but idle. In addition to keeping a busy schedule that includes electricity, industrial safety, fluid power and machine shop classes, he’s also brushing up on his general academic and computer skills.

Despite the hard work, time and energy required, Whitney is a vocal supporter of the TAA and PluggedIn programs. “I’m awfully grateful for this program – I didn’t think I’d ever be able to go back to school.”

The infectious sense of joy surrounding his schooling has family members interested in furthering their education. His son-in-law has joined the college’s welding program and his wife has her eye on pharmacy courses.

After he finishes the industrial maintenance program, Whitney would like to continue his education with another certificate or by earning a degree.

For more information and to get connected to your local community college workforce development department visit:'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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