From the very first steps of learning to the highest levels of education, local schools provide quality academics and opportunities to train for productive professions. While school districts work hard in the classroom, the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce contributes technical learning opportunities for students and builds strong partnerships with educators.
As the Chamber draws more companies and jobs to the area, it works to ensure the workforce can fulfill employment needs. Such a workforce is more attractive to employers and promotes a cycle of continued growth, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). A key demonstration of that commitment is the Chamber’s sponsorship of the annual STEM summit.
“The Chamber supports STEM initiatives as a way to expose students at a young age to careers and opportunities in the STEM arena,” says Whitney Watts, vice president of member services at the Chamber. “There are many jobs that go unfilled due to lack of training in these fields. We always seek to meet the needs of the workforce of today and into the future.”
Some of the participants involved in the STEM Summit include high schools in Stafford County, Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburg City school districts and institutions of higher learning like the University of Mary Washington and Germanna Community College. Local businesses with expertise in STEM fields also contribute their efforts to invest in the next generation of workers.
“It is an opportunity to develop skills and prepare students for a 21st century workforce,” says Watts, “because STEM careers are a vital part of our region’s economy.”
Germanna Community College
Germanna Community College prepares students for rewarding careers in technical fields and beyond. With a commitment to quality instruction, the latest technology and many convenient locations in the area, Germanna is an affordable, quality choice for higher education.
As a two-year higher education institution, Germanna sets students up to succeed in the workplace with an associate degree, certificate or the option to continue their education at a four-year college.
Germanna provides students with opportunities in STEM fields through the Fredericksburg Center for Advanced Technology, better known as FredCAT. The program is located in Fredericksburg’s Central Park and offers credential programs, apprenticeship training and support services aimed at high-demand fields. These skilled training programs are designed and led by experts in the field, making students and graduates stand out to local employers. The new center also supports local technology and manufacturing startups by providing a home base for students and entrepreneurs.
Employment Resources Inc.
Employment Resources Inc. (ERI) works to help students reach their highest academic and career potential through targeted courses and programs. ERI develops solutions for students based on their needs.
ERI’s Gladys H. Oberle School provides an alternative to traditional schools and helps students prepare for the workforce. The school specializes in serving middle and high school pupils with learning and intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbances or other impairments, as well as students who may be struggling in a public school environment.
University of Mary Washington
With more than 60 programs available in the colleges of arts and sciences, business and education, University of Mary Washington (UMW) students have many options available. The university offers students small classes with engaging professors and an average undergraduate class size of 19 students.
UMW’s unfailing dedication to quality education has been recognized nationally in college guides, including The Princeton Review’s 2018 edition of “The Best 382 Colleges,” the 2018 Fiske Guide to Colleges’ “Best Buy School,” Forbes’ 2017 list of “America’s Top Colleges” and the 2018 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”
The university has embarked on a two-year project to expand and renovate the Jepson Science Center on the Fredericksburg campus. This is a three-story above grade addition to the existing center, which opened in 1998. The 42,000 square-foot addition will house the departments of earth and environmental sciences and physics. On top of that, the existing building will be renovated to better accommodate the departments of chemistry and biology.
Eastern Virginia Career College
Eastern Virginia Career College (EVCC) is a private institution that helps students establish careers in high-demand fields. With top-notch training and some of the best resources in the state, students can earn associate degrees and certificates in the fields of nursing, allied health, education, as well as the wellness and beauty industry.
EVCC’s programs promote learning in classroom, online and lab settings, giving students the skills and professional experience to succeed in the workplace.
Developing over the years from a single career training facility to a degree granting institution recognized nationally and by the State of Virginia, EVCC continues to develop programs that meet the needs of students and the community.
Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy
Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy trains students for rewarding careers in criminal justice. With highly skilled instructors, and a record of success in the hiring of students after graduation, the school continues a legacy of excellence in public service education.
The academy was founded in 1978, and now works with more than 40 member agencies in the region.
Students looking to train for careers in public service and law enforcement will find the highest level of training in the region. In addition, it hosts a facility capable of providing the hands-on experience needed for agents and officers to succeed in the field after graduation. — By Kathryn Ingall