Recognizing that some businesses struggle with finding a sufficient skilled and experience workers, the Chamber’s monthly Suffolk Division meeting, which was held on May 20, focused on workforce development resources in Suffolk and Western Tidewater. The Chamber thanks Priscilla Taylor of Duke Automotive for coordinating the program.
Bettie Cuddyer, Chair of the Chamber’s Suffolk Division, welcomed the presenters and attendees. Speakers included Corey McCray, Executive Director of the Pruden Center for Industry and Technology; Michele Lachtara, Suffolk Workforce Development Center; Allan Britz, local veteran employment specialist for the Virginia Employment Commission; and Randy Betz, Vice President of Workforce Development for Paul D. Camp Community College.
The existence of a skilled workforce in a region is an indicator of both the presence of industries that demand these workers and a measure of a region's ability to educate or attract skilled workers. Workforce quality can be strengthened by investing in education and by creating a business-friendly environment that attracts companies with high-skill requirements. More than 28 percent of the residents of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC metropolitan statistical area hold at least a Bachelor's degree. In addition, the Hampton Roads region has increased the number of community college graduates in recent years, growing from a total of 2,822 graduates in 2002 to 4,922 graduates in 2011.
The mission of The Pruden Center for Industry and Technology is to provide students with career opportunities designed to promote personal and professional development, life-long learning experiences and enhanced quality of life via career and technical instruction for preparation and integration into the global economic community. Corey McCray discussed the variety of industries the Pruden Center offers, to include PC technology, cosmetology, building trades, Modeling & Simulation Program, nursing, IT, auto repair & service, culinary, and early childhood education. Students can receive industry certifications in the enrolled curriculum. In many cases, attendees of the Prudent Center are currently students in Isle of Wight and Suffolk public high schools. McCray said, “Our EMT students often become police officers. Those who are in the nursing program go on to become LPNs or RNs. And some of our welders now work at Newport News Shipbuilding.” For more, visit www.prudencenter.net
Michele Lachtara of the Suffolk Workforce Development Center told attendees that the workforce center in Suffolk is not just for job seekers, it’s there for employers. Services are free and they can pre-screen job candidates. Lachtara said, “We partner with Paul D. Camp Community College and the Pruden Center. The city sponsors us and we are here to support businesses.” For more, visit www.suffolk.va.us/ss/workforce.html or call 757-514-7730.
Allan Britz, local veteran representative for the Virginia Employment Commission, explained that they are part of a network to give veterans guidance. The Commission identifies what stage of the employment process the veteran is in, and offer assistance. Britz said that they are happy to see unemployment traffic has gone down. The VEC also offers employer services. For more, visit www.vec.virginia.gov or call 757-514-7747.
Referring to the 2010 International Paper Mill closure in Franklin, Randy Betz, Vice President of Workforce Development for Paul D. Camp Community College, said, “When the mill closed, it slammed our area.” The Division of Workforce Development at Paul D. Camp Community College offers a variety of training and educational options to meet the needs of new and existing employers including workforce services, facilities, high-quality instruction and ease of doing business and a variety of training topics. Betz explained that the Community College’s partnership with the Suffolk Economic Development Department is a critical part to our economy. For more, visit www.pdc.edu/workforce-development or call 757-569-6064.
The meeting provided an enormous amount of information and highlighted that these resources have much to offer employees and students, as well as employers.