Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017

WORKFORCE SPOTLIGHT: Free Workforce Tools for Students and Colleges

Submitted by Amanda Christopher, Workforce Development Services

Workforce education and training is becoming increasingly important to Virginians, according to key findings from the 2017 Public Policy Poll: Economic Development and Workforce Training report released this month, as evidenced by the hugely successful Workforce Credential Grant Program at Virginia’s Community Colleges. In just its first seven months, Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Industry Credential Grant program has enrolled 3,309 students of all ages to study for high-demand occupations, while paying only a third of the normal cost.

The report also pointed out that the majority of residents polled were not familiar with job training and education opportunities/resources in their area, such as Virginia’s Workforce Centers, also known as “One-Stops.” The One-Stop system is managed by the Virginia Community College System, and the two partner as hubs of workforce development in the state.

Virginia adults who are laid off, unemployed or underemployed can access services at one of the 70 One-Stops across the state to help get them back to work. Six One-Stops are currently running a unique and exciting randomized control study that Virginians can apply to participate in called The Virginia Financial Success Network (VFSN).

Under the VFSN, individuals eligible to receive job and training services at the One-Stops can also apply to receive free extensive financial literacy services from a personal coach. Study participants receive services aimed to help improve credit score, increase assets, increase wages, earn credentials, and much more.

The VFSN is currently serving the following areas: Western Virginia (Roanoke and surrounding areas), Piedmont Workforce Network (Charlottesville and surrounding areas), South Central (Amelia, Buckingham, Nottoway and surrounding areas), Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and West Piedmont (Danville and surrounding areas).

*In addition, the VFSN offers access to The Benefit Bank®, an online self-serve tool where you can file income tax returns and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) all in one place. There is also a Quick Check Tool that estimates an individual’s eligibility for benefits. The Benefit Bank is available free to all Virginia One-Stops and community colleges – participation in the VFSN is not a requirement. A marketing flyer is available for One-Stops and community colleges to promote free tax filing. For more information on the VFSN or The Benefit Bank, please contact Paula Dehetre, Grant Director, at 804-819-1687 or'

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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