From left: Gov. Terry McAuliffe; TCC President Edna Baehre-Kolovani; Capt. Mike Moore, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; Jim Kibler, president of Virginia Natural Gas; Carlos Hopkins, Virginia secretary of Defense and Veterans Affairs; Virginia Del. Matthew James; Virginia Del. Ron Villanueva; Judge Judy Jagdmann, State Corporation Commission; and Virginia Sen. John Cosgrove.
Tidewater Community College and Virginia Natural Gas are partners in a workforce development initiative that trains veterans and transitioning military to fill the growing need for skilled workers in the natural gas industry.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in attendance at the Virginia Beach Student Center for the announcement on Tuesday morning, lauded TCC’s continued efforts in helping transitioning military and their family members find meaningful employment.
McAuliffe was joined for the announcement by TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani; Virginia Natural Gas President Jim Kibler; Secretary of Defense and Veterans Affairs Carlos Hopkins; and Capt. Mike Moore of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
Dignitaries in attendance included Virginia Sen. John Cosgrove and Virginia Delegates Matthew James and Ron Villanueva.
“It’s great to be back at TCC for this announcement,” McAuliffe said. “We have more veterans per capita in our labor force than any state in the United States of America. We have more veterans in our labor force than any state in America. We have more female veterans than any state in America. That is a tremendous honor, but it comes with a tremendous responsibility.”
The weeklong natural gas training program, developed in collaboration with Virginia Natural Gas, the City of Virginia Beach and Virginia Gas Operators Association member companies, will be offered to former and transitioning military service members beginning on Sept. 18. Classes will be held at the Advanced Technology Center on the Virginia Beach Campus.
“TCC is proud to partner with Virginia Natural Gas in this initiative,” Kolovani said. “We not only help our veterans and transitioning military go further, but we also are committed to developing the workforce our employers need to compete in their industries, both today and in the future.”
Kibler recognized TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education for working to secure approval for students to use GI Bill® and SkillBridge funding.
“We’re grateful for the role TCC plays in developing a world-class workforce here in Hampton Roads,” he said. “Training and developing highly skilled workers ready to assume roles in construction and other areas are critical as the natural gas industry prepares for a new generation of workers.
“Our industry has a tremendous opportunity to leverage the skills and leadership of the pool of talented veterans in Hampton Roads and throughout southeastern Virginia to help meet our needs.”
In addition to bridging the skills gap, the expansion of pipeline infrastructure replacement programs across the state requires gas companies and their contractors to hire skilled labor to advance pipeline modernization efforts.
Virginia Natural Gas has received approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission to accelerate the infrastructure construction projects, which will replace more than 200 miles of aging pipeline infrastructure through 2021.
Taught by experienced utility professionals, the curriculum focuses primarily on natural gas pipeline safety, code compliance and operations. It is designed to provide veterans with basic working knowledge that will be useful in helping to prepare them for future employment in the natural gas industry.
Air Force veteran Malcolm Bumbray, who has applied to be part of the inaugural class, said he is hopeful this program will help him find a career rather than just a job. “It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “When you’re going from one phase of life to the next, it helps to have a training program like this.”
A certificate will be awarded to participants who successfully complete the 37-hour program.
For more information about the program and eligibility, contact Chris Blow at the CMVE, 757-822-7725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.