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Valley Education And Training Providers Collaborate For A Better Workforce

Leaders of human resource organizations in all types of businesses like to advance the tenet that people are the most critical asset of any company.  Particularly in today’s tight labor market, attracting and retaining excellent employees has become a crucial strategy for business success.   One of the most important aspects of that strategy involves the recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers; employees who are effectively trained to work effectively in the position they were hired for. 

In the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, employers are fortunate to have a network of education and training providers that are highly responsive to the employment needs of local businesses.   Beginning even at the earliest stages of life, our local school divisions in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County focus on instilling the interpersonal skills that will help teach youth teamwork and effective communication skills.   The local secondary system of education also is adept in the development of a child’s first conceptualization of employment, and in developing the child’s imagination regarding what the world of work will be like in the coming decades.  Outstanding Career and Technical Training Centers like Massanutten Technical Center provide students a wide range of occupational skills that are in high demand in the employment sectors most needed in Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County. 

At the postsecondary level, an impressive array of higher education institutions produce over 7000 graduates each year, preparing students for a diversity of career fields and the rapidly changing workforce environments.   American National University provides degrees and diplomas in the medical, business and technology fields in a manner that can accommodate the busy schedules of today’s student.

Blue Ridge Community College provides recent high school graduates and adults seeking re-training with access to both transfer education to pursue baccalaureate degrees, and applied education to prepare to directly enter the workforce.

James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University and Bridgewater College each offer a comprehensive selection of undergraduate and graduate level programs that are firmly rooted in the liberal arts but also directed toward preparing graduates for advanced knowledge and skills for employment.   Many of the jobs that will emerge in the coming decades do not exist today, and the Valley’s Colleges and Universities are well equipped to ensure students develop a creative mindset toward effective problem solving in order to prepare them for the rapid changes in technology and the workplace environment.

A robust workforce training services network exists in the Valley to assist employers with opportunities for on the job training, apprenticeships, and customized training in virtually any workforce topic through which a company could enhance employee skills.   Similarly, adults in need of training or re-training to upgrade their employability skills can choose among several service providers to obtain stronger employability skills.   Blue Ridge Community College’s Workforce and Continuing Education Division, and James Madison University’s Center for Outreach and Engagement both have highly qualified faculty who can offer employers workforce skill enhancement through customized training.  That training can occur directly in the company’s work environment, or at the campus location of the College or University.   Similarly,  Massanutten Technical Center’s Adult and Continuing Education Division offers both employers and adult students a compelling set of programs and courses in technical areas such as trade and industrial areas, nursing, dental, cosmetology, business and computer technology.

Virginia Career Works of the Shenandoah Valley, is the employment skill development sector of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board.  The Virginia Career Works Centers in the Valley partner with state and local agencies, service providers and community organizations to offer a full range of FREE workforce services to job seekers and employers throughout the Shenandoah Valley.

The Shenandoah Valley region is fortunate to have all of these education and training providers working together to address the needs of local employers.  Most of the education and training institutions listed here provide enrolled students with financial aid and scholarships to help lessen the cost of skill development.  Similarly, many employers partner with these providers to help make the training low cost and accessible to prospective students looking for a better life through advanced training and education.  Each of the institutions have wonderful, modern facilities with up to date equipment in a variety of workforce fields.

Economic development in the Shenandoah Valley has enjoyed the benefit of several recent company expansions and relocations because our region provides such a wonderful place to work, raise a family and enjoy an active lifestyle.  In a tight labor market, investing in the recruitment and retention of outstanding employees requires an investment in education and training.   Nowhere will you find a better manifestation of the results of such an investment than in Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia!  The Harrisonburg Rockingham Chamber of Commerce has long been a champion and supporter of that investment!

Dr. John Downey, President, Blue Ridge Community College