McDonnell: Put “Virginia First”
Announces Proposals to help Virginians Become America’s Best Prepared and Well Paid Workforce
Part Three of McDonnell’s Educational Opportunity and Excellence Plan
Unveils Policies in Speech at Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education Luncheon
RICHMOND- Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, today unveiled a wide array of proactive policies designed to make “Virginia First” in the effort to attract the good paying jobs of tomorrow. McDonnell made the proposals in a speech at the Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education luncheon, held in conjunction with the 2009 Career and Technical Education Summer Professional Development Institute in Richmond. Today’s proposals comprise the third part of his education plan to prepare Virginians for 21st century jobs. Part one was his comprehensive higher education plan, and part two included charter schools, virtual education, educational mentoring and turnaround programs.
McDonnell’s “Virginia First” proposals include:
- Doubling the number of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and career and technical skills
- Implementing a VATeach Program to increase the number of certified STEM teachers in the classroom
- Engaging more women, youth and minorities in STEM and career and technical subjects
- Expanding workforce training at our community colleges and consolidating state workforce training programs
- Strengthening relationships between private employers and Virginia’s community colleges
- Assisting more Virginians in gaining Career Readiness Certificates
- Reforming Workforce Investment Act utilization in Virginia to ensure it matches employer needs
- Increasing funding for the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Program
Speaking about his proposals to put “Virginia First” in the effort to attract the high-paying jobs of the 21st Century economy by helping Virginians become America’s best prepared workforce, McDonnell remarked, “Virginia’s greatest asset is our people. Virginians work hard, innovate constantly and improve America and the world daily with their ingenuity and talents. We are in a constant race to attract high paying employers. We compete with North Carolina, Maryland, Singapore and China. We must enact policies in Richmond that ensure that Virginians from Abingdon to Arlington can acquire the skills and the training they need to attract these employers and achieve their dreams.”
McDonnell continued, “In my administration we will expand the number of Governor’s Schools that focus on career and technical skills, science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM subjects that are becoming more and more crucial in our evolving economy. We will double the number of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies that focus on science, technology, engineering and math and career and technical skills. We will also create a VATeach program to help get more STEM teachers into our schools. We will partner with private companies, such as has been done with Cisco and Oracle, to encourage more children, women and minorities to get involved in STEM disciplines. Finally, in Virginia we have a tremendous community college system. Our community colleges are underutilized and undervalued in the effort to prepare Virginians for the jobs of tomorrow. We will consolidate the 23 different workforce training programs we have that are currently spread across 9 state agencies and make our community colleges the hub of our workforce training efforts. All these initiatives will help to bring new jobs and more opportunities to every region of Virginia.”
Bob McDonnell’s “Virginia First” Plan:
Part Three of the McDonnell Educational Opportunity and Excellence Plan: Preparing Virginians for 21st Century Jobs
Bob McDonnell will be a jobs Governor. The cornerstone of the McDonnell Administration will be an all-out effort to create new jobs and greater opportunities for all Virginians. Preparing our children for the high-demand and high-income jobs of the 21st century is vital to bringing new jobs and opportunities to the Commonwealth. This will require innovative incentives to create the best school system in America, right here in Virginia. We do this by putting “Virginia First” - leading the country in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic (STEM) educational programs, and ensuring that our workforce is highly skilled in career and technical skills.
As Governor, Bob McDonnell and his Secretaries of Education, Commerce and Trade, and Technology will work in coordination to ensure a focus on education programs and workforce development initiatives that will make Virginia competitive not only with every neighboring state but also with the global community. Through this coordinated focus, the Secretaries will align effective programs to prepare our young people for the jobs of the 21st century.
The United States is significantly trailing other industrialized nations in math and science education - the U.S. is ranked 21st in science literacy and 25th in math literacy of the 30 countries that participate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Each engineering job in the United States creates five to six related jobs, yet fewer than 2% of current U.S. high school graduates will earn an engineering degree. Virginia must do more to diversify and improve STEM offerings through proven, results-oriented programs. At a time when science and technology fields are among the fastest growing sectors of the economy, with some of the highest average salaries, the lack of early exposure to these career opportunities is a severe competitive disadvantage for Virginia.
Another vital component of Virginia’s economic growth is having a workforce that is trained in the career and technical skills of today’s jobs. A recent report issued by the Virginia Manufacturers Association estimated the cumulative number of skilled trades openings from 2007 through 2012 to be over 46,000. Other growing industries include computer systems, architectural, engineering, and medical care services.
All young people, whether they attend a traditional public school, a charter public school, a Governor’s Career and Technical Academy, a 4 year university, a local Community College or a vocational school, should be provided with relevant educational programs and quality schools that will prepare them for careers in the 21st century.
We know the winners in the economic competition of the future will be those who possess knowledge and basic skills in the STEM disciplines. Those are the people who will earn the high incomes. Those are the states and communities that will attract major business investments and research grants. It is also a vital matter of national security to support the military, to sustain our leadership in the technological revolution, and to promote Virginia’s role as an energy leader, particularly with nuclear power.
We also know these high-income, high-demand professions are where the opportunity lies for our children and grandchildren-it’s where the next generation of Virginians from all walks of life, especially underprivileged communities, will find upward mobility and the chance for a share of the American Dream.
By strengthening Virginia’s elementary through post-secondary programming in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and putting more emphasis on skills certification, we will put Virginia students on the front lines of economic expansion.
Expand Governor’s Schools with Focus on Technical Skills
Our students are performing well on math test scores in the early grades. We need to capitalize on this advantage and keep these students engaged in STEM programming - where all too often the educational achievements in these areas falter in middle and high school.
Currently in Virginia, there are eight Governor’s Career and Technical Academies that are STEM-related - with a ninth opening this fall. The academies focus on relevant disciplines such as renewable energy resources, engineering, biotechnology, electrical and mechanical engineering, medical service and mathematics. There are three schools in Northern Virginia, one in Southside, one in Southwest, two in Hampton Roads and one in Central Virginia. This fall, the City of Richmond will open the ninth such educational program at the Richmond Technical Center in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. These schools are significant steps in the right direction for the education of young people in important industries for today’s jobs. There is more opportunity for growth. As Governor, Bob McDonnell will bring these opportunities to all of Virginia’s children.
- We will work with leaders in education, workforce, and economic development side-by-side with businesses to provide every community access to learning academies - with the goal of doubling the number of academies during Bob’s term as Governor. All Virginia communities will have access to a Governor’s Career and Technical Academy that is STEM inclusive and is linked to demand occupations in the region. We must also recognize that not every young person will go to a four year college, and there are numerous quality jobs available to those that have specific skill sets and certified training. We must do more for these students in high school to train them so that they enter the workforce prepared with the skills to succeed.
- To elevate the status of career and technical skills, the expanded academies will focus on promoting skills development for occupational areas such as technicians, welders, mechanics, machinists, builders, computer scientists and other occupations in the region that are in demand.
Putting the Best STEM Teachers in the Classrooms
In order to have the best opportunities for innovation, we need to attract, train, motivate, reward, and retain many more excellent teachers in innovative disciplines that focus on career skill development - math, science, and reading. Studies show that teacher education, certification, and experience have the most direct impact on student achievement. Virginia needs teachers with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math to teach and empower our young people in these subject areas.
- Bob McDonnell believes that Virginia must be innovative and implement performance incentives for teachers, as supported by President Barack Obama, to ensure that we recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers for our classrooms.
- Modeled on the successful Texas program, Bob McDonnell will work with our higher education community to implement VATeach to increase the number of certified STEM teachers in the classroom. This program will create an option for undergraduates to receive a bachelor’s degree in a STEM related field and a teaching license in the same four-year period; for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree to become STEM certified; and for current teachers seeking additional certification.
- Over the course of the McDonnell Administration, we will increase the amount of funding available for the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Program and set aside a portion of the funds specifically for STEM and career and technical education shortage areas.
- In addition, Bob McDonnell will support measures like Troops to Teachers and VCCS’s Career Switchers that encourages experienced professionals to enter the teaching profession as second careers, or to make part-time commitments to teach and mentor young people in these areas.
Engage Youth, Women and Minorities in STEM Disciplines
Young people need to hear early and often about the exciting and lucrative career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, and they need to hear it not only from guidance counselors and teachers, but from business and community leaders, and from people who perform exciting, ground-breaking innovations every day in those professions.
A great example of an innovative partnership between the business community and schools is the FIRST program - “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” Currently, the FIRST program reaches over 190,000 students and involves 60,000 volunteers nationally each year. The program begins with children as young as 6 by introducing them to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete tasks on a thematic playing surface. Students research and solve a real-world problem, present their research and solutions, and build an autonomous robot using engineering concepts. In secondary schools, the FIRST Robotics Challenge is a unique varsity sport of the mind designed to help high-school-aged young people discover how interesting and rewarding the life of engineers and researchers can be. Teams and their mentors from the private sector build robots to compete against other schools and are judged by a committee of engineers and other professionals.
This innovative program gives students an opportunity to apply relevant disciplines - math, science, and technology skills - learned in the classroom, and participants gain valuable experience and life skills in entrepreneurship, teamwork, planning, creative and critical thinking, finance, fundraising, project management, and understanding advanced concepts.
Cisco Networking Academy and Oracle Internet Academy are additional examples of innovative partnerships between the private sector and our school systems to prepare students to enter into high demand careers right after high school. These programs are in existing schools, and provide a comprehensive e-learning program for information, communication technology, and business skills. We will push to have such great programs throughout school systems in Virginia.
Nationwide, there is a push for more women and underrepresented minorities to choose STEM fields. While African Americans account for about 15 percent of the population between ages 20 and 24, only about 8 percent of science and engineering degrees are earned by them, according to the National Science Foundation. The ratio is similar for Hispanics. Also according to the National Science Foundation, only 3.8 percent of women choose engineering in the STEM field.
- To get more students involved in these disciplines at an early age, we need to expand partnerships, like FIRST, Cisco Network Academy and Oracle Internet Academy that rely on private sector cooperation with our schools.
- These programs are also beneficial in encouraging more women and minorities to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. These team building and social programs aim to encourage their development at a young age.
Building a Career-Ready Workforce
Beyond developing our STEM offerings, we must ensure that the content of our educational programs prepares our students to make successful career pathway decisions. The rapid advancements in new technologies are driving the demand for new, non-credit course offerings and industry certifications, so that our workforce can keep pace. This is particularly important for the Virginia economy, as we compete with our neighbors and abroad.
As Governor, Bob McDonnell will work to ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to cultivate real-world skills at all levels of education.
- Bob McDonnell will make our great community college system the cornerstone of workforce training and development. Some of the work at our community colleges results in associates degrees or transfer to four-year institutions. Some leads to professional certification. In other cases the training is tailored to the specific needs of local businesses, some of whom partner with the community colleges for specialized programs. But the common denominator is that all of these programs provide access to better career opportunities for a wide range of Virginians-young people and adults, from varied backgrounds, all across our state. Community Colleges are unique in that they are closer to the needs of the local community and can tailor programs to the jobs and industries in the region.
- We will seek to increase investments in the community college system over the McDonnell administration so that they can provide more workforce training courses and offer more non-credit classes, particularly industry approved certifications, to students.
- Right now there are nearly 23 different workforce training programs, spread across 9 different agencies. McDonnell will consolidate these efforts and make our community colleges the focus of a comprehensive workforce training system-one that is aligned with emerging economic trends, and is geared to occupations our employers need to remain competitive in our fast-changing private sector.
- The business community must play a significant role in directing the workforce training within the Community Colleges. By developing strong partnerships between VCCS and the private sector in every region, we can best structure a curriculum to provide students with specific skill sets so that they are career ready.
Virginia currently participates in the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). The Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) is part of a statewide initiative to provide jobseekers with portable skills credentials that are industry-relevant and industry-recognized. ACareer Readiness Certificate gives employers’ confidence that the jobseeker has the level of skills needed to perform for given occupations.
* The CRC is a credential that reflects an individual’s skills as they are required across many industries and occupations; examples include reading for information, locating information and applied mathematics. Virginia’s multi-level approach to career readiness certificates affords a plan for individuals to improve their skill over time via work experience or additional training, which may be industry or occupation specific.
* From the employer’s perspective, CRCs reduce information costs and uncertainty associated with finding and hiring qualified applicants; this reduces employer’s costs of hiring and improves their productivity.
* From the CRC jobseekers’ perspective, holding a CRC improves the efficiency with which they can convey their skills to prospective employers
· From the state’s perspective, the CRC initiative helps regions support businesses in their efforts to employ the best and the brightest for their vacant job openings.
* We will seek to expand the integration of the CRC with existing educational programs and expand the number of citizens, from high school students to dislocated workers, attaining CRC bronze, silver and gold status.
The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) restructured the former Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) federal program under the Clinton administration. Governor Kaine moved WIA from Commerce and Trade to the VCCS. WIA executes statewide and local workforce investment programs that are expected to increase the employment, retention, earnings and occupational skills of participants.
* We will provide an economic development vision for WIA expenditures across the state that is consistent with demand occupation forecasts.
* We will reform the local service delivery of WIA in terms of training provider gaps, accountability and transparency, and program implementation.