Virginia Community Colleges announced Thursday the launch of a Virginia Infrastructure Academy to meet the needs of infrastructure industries.
“The availability of a skilled and skilled workforce continues to be a significant challenge for the construction and infrastructure maintenance industries in the Commonwealth,” said Sharon Morrissey, Acting Chancellor of Virginia Community College. System, in a press release.
Recent data revealed that companies are struggling to fill more than 100,000 infrastructure jobs in Virginia.
VCCS seeks to address the problem by coordinating existing infrastructure-related courses at Virginia’s 23 community colleges, with the goal of producing 35,000 skilled and credentialed workers in these industries over the next five years.
Programs include heavy construction and maintenance; a focus on the construction of roads, bridges and tunnels; the expansion of broadband; and on-shore and off-shore wind and solar power infrastructure and distribution.
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“It’s vital to the success of many Virginia businesses,” Virginia Secretary of Labor George “Bryan” Slater said in a news release. “Our demands for the infrastructure workforce are growing every day, and initiatives such as the Virginia Infrastructure Academy will help ensure that qualified, qualified people are available for hire, which will result in a workforce -of first-rate work in Virginia.”
The Lumina Foundation is paying for the start-up costs of the academy with a $400,000 grant over two years, according to a statement.
The money supports an initial review of existing infrastructure programs at Virginia’s 23 community colleges, a plan for initial program growth through in-person and virtual offerings, and outreach to prospective students.
Jason Ferguson, associate vice president of professional and career studies at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg, said it was about getting the information out to students.
“For CVCC, we have several programs that fall under this area, such as electrical, welding, maintenance, solar and other renewables, electric vehicles, and related programs,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said CVCC will continue to try to meet the needs of businesses as they look to the future to meet any needs businesses may have.
“As companies let us know what those needs are, it’s our job to try to figure out how to meet those training needs,” Ferguson said.