So-called “opportunity youth,” young adults who failed to complete postsecondary education or training and are currently out of work, typically face the prospect of long-term unemployment or careers in low-paying jobs. At the same time, employers in Virginia are struggling to find enough candidates to fill “middle skills” jobs that offer good pay, solid long-term employment prospects and satisfying careers. These are occupations that require postsecondary credentials, but less than a bachelor’s degree.
With USA Funds®’ support, Virginia is leveraging and expanding existing state programs to build a pathway to rewarding employment for opportunity youth in Richmond, and a talent pipeline to address this middle skills gap for employers. In partnership with Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College, the initiative will integrate basic skills education with occupational training for high-demand occupations in health care, logistics, machining, welding and energy technology. Students will earn industry certifications and build a solid foundation for continued postsecondary education.
Based on the results of the pilot program serving approximately 135 young adults, Virginia will consider replicating the program in other areas of the state.
A second component of the $1 million partnership includes development and promotion of new online resources to help consumers better assess the value of postsecondary education programs and their alignment with the needs of the workforce.
Virginia is one of the states in which USA Funds has directly invested in philanthropic initiatives as a laboratory of innovation for exploring new ways to support better higher education decisions, improve college outcomes and help students more successfully launch their careers.