CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) and its nine colleges have been awarded a nearly $4 million apprenticeship grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will support Apprenticeships in Motion (AIM), which will train and place apprentices in middle- to high-skilled IT occupations.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta was on hand to make the announcement today at BridgeValley Community and Technical College in South Charleston. Acosta also participated in a roundtable discussion about the importance of apprenticeships in workforce development with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito; Dr. Sarah Tucker, WVCTCS Chancellor; Ed Gaunch, Cabinet Secretary of the WV Department of Commerce; Chris Gilmer, President of WVU Parkersburg; Johnny Moore, President of Pierpont Community and Technical College; and several others representing the state’s technology and workforce sectors.
“I appreciate the opportunity to speak with leaders from the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, TechConnectWV, and West Virginia Government officials,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The Apprenticeships in Motion program will provide opportunities for West Virginians to learn in-demand skills in the information technology industry. Apprenticeship programs are critical to filling the 7.4 million open jobs in the United States and providing the American workforce with pathways to family-sustaining careers.”
“West Virginia’s community and technical colleges are proof-positive that apprenticeships work,” Chancellor Tucker said. “This remarkable investment by the U.S. Department of Labor will allow us to create even more opportunities for West Virginians to pursue and obtain careers in rapidly-growing technology fields. This is a path to new jobs, new business growth, new economic advancement – and new ways for all of us to work together to create a brighter future for the Mountain State.”
West Virginia is a national leader in aligning its community and technical college programs with state economic development efforts, as it strives to help 60 percent of state residents earn a certificate or degree by 2030. WVCTCS institutions serve 28,000 students, nearly 4,200 of whom enroll in IT courses. AIM will build on the system’s success in working with businesses to develop a highly skilled IT workforce for West Virginia.
In addition to WVCTCS and its colleges, AIM partners include TechConnect WV, a consortium of nearly 20 industry partners, the American Association of Community Colleges, the WV Department of Commerce, the WV Development Office, Workforce West Virginia, the WV Office of Apprenticeship, Small Business Development Centers, the WV Chamber of Commerce, and Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.
AIM’s goal is to grow a workforce to fill the state’s IT industry skills gap and expand the number of businesses participating in West Virginia’s Learn and Earn program, which the Legislature created to bolster the state’s workforce by matching wages with employers that hire students pursuing certificates or associate degrees to be their apprentices – a model that AIM will work to scale beyond West Virginia.
“This is positioning West Virginia to become an even bigger model for states across the country,” Chancellor Tucker said. “Learn and Earn is a best practice that AIM will ultimately scale nationally. That is not just an exciting prospect; now, thanks to this grant, it’s an exciting reality.”
“BridgeValley Community and Technical College embraces the use of apprentices. For the past two years we have worked closely with our business and industry partners to create apprenticeships for our students. We currently have apprentices on staff and look forward to expanding our participation through this new, exciting opportunity.” Dr. Eunice Bellinger, President, BridgeValley Community and Technical College
“At WVU Parkersburg, students in our Computer Information Systems program have already been working and learning at the college and at Chemours, a major local and national business, in a Learn and Earn program which lays the groundwork for the expansion into more formal internships such as the AIM program will allow. The communities we serve are excited by any approach to workforce development and education which emphasizes learning by doing, and we definitely foresee the forward motion for West Virginia’s economy which such a program will provide.” Dr. Christopher Gilmer, President, WVU Parkersburg
“This new USDOL Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies Grant will empower our Community and Technical Colleges to play a central role in the expansion of apprenticeships that analysts proclaim our state and nation vitally need. Furthermore, this grant will assist our colleges to reduce the substantial gap that currently exist between the training and education college graduates receive, and the skills today’s labor market demands. Pierpont is excited for this opportunity and we look forward to putting this grant into motion.” Dr. Johnny M. Moore, President, Pierpont Community and Technical College
“Southern is eager to participate in this exciting Apprenticeship opportunity as it will provide real life training for our students and help ensure a qualified workforce for Southern West Virginia.”, Dr. Bob Gunter, President, Southern WV Community and Technical College
“Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is pleased to participate in this innovative grant which will further strengthen the partnerships with regional employers and provide valuable concrete learning experiences for our students. The support of this grant funding will sharpen our efforts to produce a well trained and educated workforce for West Virginia.” Dr. Peter Checkovich, President, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
“New River Community and Technical College is looking forward to using this opportunity to expand partnerships with local businesses in our highly successful Learn and Earn program.” Dr. Bonny Copenhaver, President, New River Community and Technical College
“As West Virginia works to grow our economy, this type of support for workforce development in the technology sector is critical. There are thousands of open jobs in tech right now, and we know there will be great demand in the future, too. Demonstrating to industry that we have trained talent will help attract companies to start or open offices in the state, creating opportunity for both workers and business.” Anne Barth, Executive Director, TechConnect West Virginia
“As a West Virginia based technology solution provider for 20 years we have been pleased to have participated with both BridgeValley and Mountwest Community and Technical Colleges in their “Learn and Earn” programs. We currently have 7 full time employees who worked as interns in the Learn and Earn program with ATS while in school who were offered full time positions upon their graduation. We currently have 2 interns in the program and anticipate at least 2 to 4 in the fall semester. It is a great benefit to the state and local businesses to receive this grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to help us continue to train individuals in the IT field, which in the end helps provide the local business with a steady and qualified workforce and provides good paying jobs for West Virginia citizens.” Gary R. Sims, Sr., Chief Financial Officer, Advanced Technical Solutions (ATS)
“What an amazing, timely award for WV Council for Community and Technical College Education. This funding coupled with the multi-pronged efforts currently underway are very encouraging steps for all of West Virginia. The cohesive vision of our state partnered with a willing and able Department of Labor is just what we need to make a difference. I am humbled and excited to be a partner and look forward to great things from this program.” Jamila Jones-Fleet, President, Innovative Solutions Technology
“Our partnership with the Community and Technical College System of WV has been essential to our growth. The Learn & Earn program creates a win-win for students and Core10: they gain valuable experience and we’re able to source top talent in software development and train them on our client-centric development methodology.” Lee Farabaugh, Core10 Co-Founder
“Procter & Gamble Tabler Station is happy to see the announcement of the award of the USDOL Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies Grant to West Virginia Community and Technical Colleges. This is a great opportunity for the Eastern Panhandle community and the state of West Virginia. We look forward to the growth this will enable our community through business and education partnerships.” Keith Busby, Site HR Manager, Procter & Gamble Tabler Station