Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More than 200 young adults in the Richmond area now have the basic skills and credentials needed for high-demand jobs, thanks to the Virginia Community College System’s Strada Education Network grant. The two-year grant, which ends this month, took successful pieces of past community college programs aimed at reaching individuals affected by poverty, including PluggedInVA and Middle College, and created a new service delivery model with integrated education and training.

“This was an answer to a call from the college presidents, the Chancellor and leaders in Richmond – to lift Richmond residents out of poverty and into living wages. And to create a program this large and to have such a far reaching impact required a lot of strong partnerships,” said Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment at CCWA.

Logistics students participated in Lumber Liquidators three-day orientation to warehousing where, if they performed satisfactorily, they would be offered a position at the company. Pictured l to r: Kayvon Jennings, DeJohn Wilson, Alexandra Walton, Mansfield Muhlenburg, Brittany Roots, and ABE Instructor Derrick Bates.

The service delivery model combined basic skills/GED instruction with industry-specific training and soft skills, the opportunity to receive industry certifications, digital literacy, financial literacy and career readiness instruction. Industry and employment drove the curriculum, and career coaches supported students’ goals and progress in the cohorts.

Training occurred in high-demand fields of logistics, customer service, construction trades, and healthcare. Eighty-six percent of participants earned an industry credential, most of which are FastForward credentials.

Brittany Roots, age 21, received training and a Certified Logistics Associate credential, Forklift Operator credential and OSHA 10 through the grant.

“I was working as a quality control technician in a warehouse, but they shut down and moved their operations to another state. I was unemployed for three months and saw the advertisement for this program on Facebook,” said Brittany.

She began training at CCWA in September 2018 and received her credentials in two months. Lumber Liquidators, one of several business partners providing experiential learning (facility tours, job shadowing, and “a day at work”) to participating students, invited Brittany and her classmates into their facilities to take part in day-to-day work. Brittany received a job offer on her third day of the experience and began working there two weeks later.

“The job I have today is more stable and includes benefits, and I enjoy putting to use what I learned in the training. When I was unemployed, I was just trying to make it day-to-day and find employment quickly. I would recommended the training program and tell people it will save them so much money,” said Brittany.

The Strada grant was a collaboration of the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), Reynolds and John Tyler Community Colleges, Capital and Crater Regions’ Adult Education programs and Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia.

For more information on Strada grants through the VCCS, please contact Jim Andre, Director, Adult Coaching and Transition Programming'

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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