“Our goal is to develop a pipeline of veterans trained in the manufacturing sector with the expertise to sustain the emerging workforce demand,” said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. “The CMVE will lead our effort that will expand credentialing opportunities for all Virginians as we work to close the workforce skills gap in manufacturing.”
Brett Vassey, VMA president and CEO, said the trade association recognized in 2007 that manufacturers would have a skills gap of approximately 11,000 people a year. “We also knew that the largest need was in the manufacturing technician occupation, and 96 percent of manufacturers wanted people with these applied and measurable skills. Although the economics challenges of the last few years have slowed demand, it is back, and we need to move quickly. This partnership between MSI and Virginia’s community colleges will help close the skills gaps for manufacturers.”
The CMVE will work with the VMA, Virginia Values Veterans (V3), the City of Chesapeake and the city’s manufacturing companies to launch the pilot program. The CMVE will be an assessment and certifying center for the VMA to assist veterans in attaining their Manufacturing Technician Level 1 (MT1) certification, a baseline credential for Virginia’s 6,000 manufacturers.
“It is rewarding to work with the City of Chesapeake to organize the manufacturers and work together to provide opportunities for veterans in the advanced manufacturing industry,” said Bruce Brunson, executive director of the CMVE.
Plans are also under way to explore how the MT1 initiative can be incorporated into the newly announced mechatronics pathway between TCC and Chesapeake Public Schools, which allows students to earn their high school diplomas while preparing for in-demand jobs in manufacturing.
VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois also noted, “It’s one more step away from that ‘bachelor’s or bust’ mindset that can prevent people from promising opportunities in high-demand career areas.
In addition to TCC, community colleges involved in the project are Blue Ridge; John Tyler and J. Sargent Reynolds; Mountain Empire; Southside Virginia; Thomas Nelson; Virginia Highlands; and Virginia Western.