Opinion

New center should help state build workforce

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — West Virginia has taken a much-needed step forward with the completion of a new facility that beefs up its ability to provide workforce training.

The step was highlighted when officials gathered Tuesday to dedicate the Advanced Technology Center located in the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.

The idea behind the new center, which cost $15 million to build and equip and has 55,000 square feet of space, is to serve as a flexible training site for various educational and workforce training programs. Input from local manufacturers was used by the state Community and Technical College System to design the facility, the first of two like it planned in the Mountain State. The other, in Fairmont, is under construction.

Providing the facilities and programs to boost the skills of the state’s workforce is an essential undertaking for West Virginia, which suffers from a skill gap in a significant portion of its labor force. For example, low participation in post-secondary educational programs and poor graduation rates mean a direct economic impact when it comes to filling jobs and attracting business. A 2013 study by Georgetown University speculated that by 2020, 51 percent of jobs in the state will require at least an associate degree. Right now, West Virginia is not on course to provide the workforce to sustain its economy and to meet that workforce demand in the future, officials say.

The Advanced Technology Center can help change that picture…

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