In January 2017, the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board (NR/MR WDB) began their Pathways to the American Dream project. This four-year project is funded by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration America’s Promise, H-1B Job Training Grant. Pathways is a multi-partner/multi-jurisdictional collaborative headed by the NR/MR WDB. The geographic area to be served by the project (roughly 25% of the state of Virginia) encompasses 25 counties, 8 cities and includes the Alleghaney Highlands, Roanoke Valley, West Piedmont, New River Valley and extends to Southwest Virginia.
Goals of the Pathways project are:
- 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.
The first six months of 2017 were dedicated to “start-up” activities for the project (lining up partners, hiring staff, developing budgets and procedures, etc.). Late June the project began serving participants and businesses. Results of Year 1 can be found here.
For more information about the Pathways to the American Dream project, contact Marty Holliday at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-633-6764.