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CCWA Supports Wage Gains with Workforce Credentials

CCWA Supports Wage Gains with Workforce Credentials

When training is aligned with high-demand occupational fields, it creates the perfect opportunity for job seekers to gain skills and earn credentials for occupations that will offer them higher wages.  Those with jobs may be looking to jumpstart a new career in education or manufacturing.  Those transitioning from military service may need training for credentials that provide access to occupations such as health care.  And high school graduates may want workforce training that can get them a job, and also a few credits towards a college credential.  CCWA offers training for nationally-recognized industry credentials in manufacturing, construction and transportation, logistics and warehousing, health care, education and business services. As of January (2018), CCWA has enrolled 1181 students in training for workforce credentials with 714 of those students having completed their training and already earned credentials.  There are even CCWA programs that allow job seekers to combine GED preparation and training for a high growth occupation.

Last week, Virginia’s Community Colleges reported significant statewide outcomes, on impact of the program on participant wages, for the first year of the Workforce Credential Grant.

Read more below from Virginia’s Community Colleges:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Early Wage Data Reveals Strong Gains for Workforce Credentials Grant Recipients

RICHMOND – Virginians taking advantage of a new state grants program for workforce training are graduating and being hired into careers that typically increase their take-home pay between 25 percent and 50 percent, and even higher in some cases. Those statistics represent a first look at the wage data of those who used Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credentials Grants to earn FastForward credentials at a Virginia Community College.

“Businesses are lining up to hire workers with the right skills, and the salary increases are transforming the lives of Virginia families,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Since the program’s inception, some 4,500 Virginians have used the grants to earn credentials in about 40 high-demand occupations. The average grant recipient is 36 years old, with an annual salary of $22,000 upon entering the program. Two out of three are new to community college education; and 20 percent received some form of public assistance in the year before the grants program began.

Early indicators show welders are seeing some of the biggest increases, up 50 percent. Manufacturers (31 percent), commercial truck drivers (33 percent), and healthcare administrators (23 percent) represent occupations with strong income growth. Construction and power line workers, and certified nursing assistants are also showing strong gains.

Wage analysis compares the program participant’s income before entering a program and the annualized salary earned for two or more quarters after earning a credential. Researchers say wage data from additional program graduates will allow for deeper analysis of these and other occupations.

“The success of Virginia’s Workforce Credentials Grants has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations,” noted Del. Kathy J. Byron (R-Bedford), sponsor of the House of Delegates legislation to enact the program. “This program is changing lives and transforming our workforce as a result.”

“Those with certifications have quickly found employment with family-supporting wages,” said state Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Clarksville), sponsor of the state Senate legislation. “And we expect each reporting period will yield further results. This is a win for employers and students.”

Virginia’s median income for those 25 and older stood at $42,000 in 2016, which represents a 2.1 percent increase from 2014, and a 4.8 percent increase from 2012. As the program name suggests, FastForward credentials are among the quickest way for an individual to elevate his or her career prospects.

“We are pleased to see that the FastForward program is off to a successful start,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “The availability of high-demand credential and degree programs is crucial to the businesses who employ these workers and to growing our economy. We look forward to working with public policy leaders to build on the program’s capacity.”

“Demand is high among both the businesses looking to fill these jobs, and the individuals seeking opportunity,” said DuBois. “The beauty of the program’s pay-for-performance nature is that money is spent only when results are achieved. This is a direct investment in Virginia’s workforce, and a boost for its competitiveness.”

The Virginia General Assembly created the grants program in 2016, allocating $12.5 million for the program’s first two years. The pay-for-performance program sold out early each year, exhausting the grant funding. The 2018 introduced biennial budget included $9.5 million for the grants in each of the next two years. Concerned over the high demand for the grants, business leaders and community college officials are working with legislators to further increase the funding.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit

About FastForward: A high-demand program helping Virginians get the jobs they want and the salaries they need, FastForward programs are short-term training courses offered through Virginia’s Community Colleges to help you fast-track your career for 40 different occupations. State grants and other forms of financial assistance may be available for program applicants. For more information, please visit


Asst. Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications
(804) 592-6767

CCWA on RVA Today

CCWA on RVA Today

Elizabeth Creamer, CCWA’s Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment, explained programs, services and the significance of credentials in a recent interview at NBC12. In the past year, CCWA has awarded more than 1,000 industry certificates – allowing individuals a pathway to new careers and filling the pipeline for many employers.  Watch the interview here.

Learn more about certification programs by visiting

CCWA’s Manufacturing Tech Training Gives an Edge Toward Employment

CCWA’s Manufacturing Tech Training Gives an Edge Toward Employment

In the last year, CCWA has conducted hands-on Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT1) classes for nearly 300 participants. The MT1 training is one of several programs in the FastForward initiative – offering industry-recognized certificates that meet business and employment demands and support career development for individuals.

Listen to the Interview:


Learn more about the program and MT1 training in this segment from WVTF (10/5/17):

CCWA’s 2018 Summer Youth Camps

CCWA’s 2018 Summer Youth Camps

In its fifth summer at CCWA, nearly 100 students (ages 8-12)  learned from digital arts industry experts, Black Rocket during eight camp courses including Minecraft Modders, Code Breakers, and much more.

One of this summer’s instructors Elise Neuscheler said, “the kids loved it and they leave with their eyes open to new possibilities.” She added, “they get to peek under the surface of games and programs that they use every day.” The Minecraft series remains the most popular and a new course Creative Design and Robotics was offered this summer.

Students were able to upload their work to a website to share with parents, receive comments and access their progress. Returning students were able to create more advanced projects and build onto previous projects.

2018 Summer Camp Offerings:

App Attack!      Fee: $185 

Take the first steps into the world of mobile app design and customize your own game app! Using a specialized app and game development tool, students will explore the world of web-based (HTML5) mobile apps. In addition to learning the basics of mobile app design and game development, you will also see firsthand how the world of App publishing functions. 

JUN 25-29 M–F Mornings

Minecraft© Modders      Fee: $185 

Use your favorite game to learn the basics of modding and foundations of programming. Learn scripting and logic statements as you create your first mods! Introductory coding will also be taught through a simulated environment inspired by Minecraft. 

JUN 25-29 M–F Afternoons

Creative Design and Robotics      Fee: $185 

The world of the future belongs to…robots! In this cutting-edge class students will learn the fundamentals of motorized mechanisms, design principles, sensors, and sound activation. Separate fact from fantasy by designing and building prototypes of task oriented robots. Learn problem-solving to improve how their robots function in a series of design challenges! 

JUL 9-13 M–F Mornings 

NEW! Drone Adventures      Fee: $185 

The Drones are here! Let the battles begin. In this hands on, interactive class you will learn how to fly and drive drone robots. Working in teams you will be able to code your drone to compete in missions that will prepare you for the ultimate team challenge at the end of the week. 

JUL 9-13 M–F Afternoons 

Make Your First Video Game!      Fee: $185 

If you love playing video games, this is the camp for you! Make your first video game in this one-of-a-kind class that shows you the keys to designing your first 2D platformer game. Conceptualization, play experience, level design, graphics, sounds, and simple coding are just some of the concepts that we’ll explore. 

JUL 16-20 M–F Mornings

NEW! ROBLOX® Makers-Coders-Entrepreneurs!      Fee: $185 

Discover how to code in the Lua language while playing and designing worlds in ROBLOX® , an online universe where you can create anything you dream of. This new class combines game design concepts, coding, and fun! Young entrepreneurs will also learn how to navigate Roblox’s fast growing marketplace to publish their games. 

JUL 16-20 M–F Afternoons 

NEW! Advanced 3D Video Game with Unity      Fee: $185 

Are you ready to take your game design skills to another level? With Unity, an industry grade design software, aspiring game designers will learn level editing, 3D modeling, intermediate event scripting, and the impact of game play on user experience. 

JUL 23-27 M–F Afternoons 

AUG 6-10 M–F Mornings

NEW! Code Your Own Adventure! Interactive Storytelling      Fee: $185 

Watch as the characters in your imagination come to life in this unique course that blends classic storytelling with animation techniques and coding. Start with a concept, design the characters, and choose not just one ending, but many! Learn how to create your own text-based adventure games with variables, conditional logic, images, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

JUL 30-AUG 3 M–F Mornings 

Minecraft© Designers      Fee: $185 

If you love the game Minecraft, and always wanted to design your own world, this class is for you! Learn how to create a custom map, the basics of creating 3D models using a new software to design your very own objects, how to build with Redstone and Command blocks, and create custom textures for you to import at home or share with friends. 

JUL 30-AUG 3 M–F Afternoons 

Virtual Reality: The Future is Now      Fee: $205 

Embark on an EPIC adventure in virtual reality! In this cutting edge class, you will learn the foundations of VR design by creating your own virtual worlds, exploring simulated environments, and crafting memorable 3D experiences. At the end of the week, take home your first cardboard VR headset to show friends and family the new worlds you created. 

JUL 23-27 M–F Mornings 

AUG 6-10 M–F Afternoons 

Data Conversation is a Highlight to RVA Tech Week

Data Conversation is a Highlight to RVA Tech Week

Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe and City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney kicked the week off on Monday morning, and the excitement continued at the first official luncheon of Tech Week, at Pasture Restaurant, in Richmond.  “Data is Beautiful” was the theme, and a moderated discussion ensued with two representatives from Altria: Charles Tango and Ian Tyndall.  The two IT experts from this data-rich company detailed how the use of data has changed in recent years.  Below is a summary of their conversation.

How has data collection, usage and storage changed?
There has been an increasing emphasis on personalizing data. Even millennials are more willing to provide personal data if they can get a better, personalized experience.  Privacy is valued by everyone, but younger people are more liberal with how they conceive of private data and they view the sharing of personal information differently than their parents.  This is important and a challenge for businesses like an Altria, who have customers that span many different generations.  Global and cultural differences further exacerbate the complexities of data personalization.

How do businesses like Altria figure out what data to use?
Altria has a defined IT governance, with rigorous vetting of business ideas tied to data.  Most of their new business strategies are hypothesis driven, not just the result of broadly collecting data or generally looking for trends to emerge on their own.  They start with some specific ideas and testing. They also look at how other businesses could disrupt their ideas and impact the bottom line.   They use strategic three-year plans, with an annual review process, which ties into an overarching ten-year concept.

What do you look for when hiring people to work with data?
Altria wants people who can understand data and make informed decisions; this is a difficult skill set to fill.  Businesses like Altria, and likely yours, need the right skill set and mindset, in addition to learning the applications used in the analysis of data.  Beyond the technical, there is a need for leadership skills, and extensive communication skills.  The expectation is that your responsibilities will grow over time when you work at Altria, so the need for the soft and hard skills are critical.  Tech skills are trending and programs like Microsoft Excel are here to stay because they are necessary for day-to-day business success.

Machine learning and analyzing data.  When will the tech be able to help us make thoughtful decisions?
There are lots of packages that can help you visualize data, but there is an art to being able to understand data well in YOUR business context.  This is hard to bridge in any industry.  Machine learning has a potential to really help with this down the road.  Imagine technology that could tell you this each day: “Here are the three things you can do today to move your business forward.”  Once machine learning can do that, it will really come into its own.  Bottom Line: Let’s stop producing reports and work to create actionable data.  Software today doesn’t really do this.  But it will!

Are the relationships between business folks and the IT folks a problem? 
Businesses have a hard time understanding what IT people do. The IT professional must have an entrepreneurial, project management mindset.  While it’s not a simple task,  it was suggested that IT people need to be able to explain what they do with a unique story for leadership and peers.

What is exciting or going to happen in the next five years? 
There is excitement about block chain technology, as there is an opportunity to streamline supply chain interactions, and possibly benefit the consumer side of the market. There are also growing trends in security that may alter the future cyber world.

Are you looking to improve your data analysis or soft skills?  Check out these classes:

This post was written by CCWA’s IT Director and frequent attendee of RVA Tech Week sessions, Dr. Nick Langlie.

Getting to Know CCWA’s New VP Elizabeth Creamer

Getting to Know CCWA’s New VP Elizabeth Creamer

In her new role as CCWA’s Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment, Elizabeth Creamer has hit the ground running. From meetings with college and community partners to this week’s milestone announcement with Governor McAuliffe, she and the CCWA staff are focused on building the region’s workforce. When asked about the road ahead, she offered some insight about her position and ensuring a focus on credentials – helping people get to work and meeting the needs of employers.

You’ve been an advocate for workforce programs for many years. How will this new role at CCWA be different for you?
I am incredibly excited to be leading CCWA.  I’ve been immersed in workforce development trends and issues for the past 18 years, but this is the first time in over a decade that I’ve worked at a regional, rather than a state level.  I hope that in bringing to CCWA what I’ve learned in the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Community College System, I will add value to the work of the CCWA team and to Reynolds and John Tyler Community Colleges.  I’ve long worked, in my previous jobs, with CCWA administration and staff and I’m honored to be leading such a professional team.

What trends do you see affecting the delivery of workforce programs in the next few years?
In the next decade, Virginia will need to fill more than 1.3 million new jobs.  Of those, from 50 to 65 percent will be trades or technician level jobs that require training and credentials beyond a high school diploma but not a baccalaureate degree.  The industry demand for trained and credentialed workers in advanced manufacturing, energy, IT and cybersecurity, health care, and transportation and logistics is creating an unprecedented interest in workforce development among state and regional elected officials and industry and economic development leaders.  Today’s pathways to success include short term, intensive workforce training that integrates an industry-valued certification or license as well as employability (or “soft”) skills development and career planning.  Think IT boot camps.  The increasing value of industry credentials, the fastest growing segment of the postsecondary education market, is definitely a growing trend as is the growth in non-traditional pathways to credentials and careers.

For example, we’ve now seen registered apprenticeships prioritized in the workforce development agendas of both the current and previous president.  The related instruction component of registered apprenticeships, in a number of neighboring states, are delivered by community colleges and confer community college credentials, and there’s a great opportunity for CCWA and our colleges in working with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry to develop such programs.

Credentials are increasingly popular among employers and job seekers. What is your outlook on the growth of credentials and their impact on the workforce in the Greater Richmond region?
The best perk of my new job is having the title Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment.  I believe in the power of workforce credentials such as industry certifications, occupational licenses, apprenticeship credentials, and community college career studies certificates to move more Virginians into well-paying jobs.  I also believe that such credentials, when aligned and connected with community college degree programs, can provide a stepping stone to an associate or baccalaureate degree program for those adults who, otherwise, might not ever see themselves in college.  I think we’ve only scratched the surface in driving industry certifications.  These credentials can be imbedded in degree and certificate programs, in incumbent worker training, in dual-enrollment classes, in adult education, and, of course, in non-credit workforce training.  National data shows that those who hold market valued certifications earn higher wages and are less likely to be unemployed.  Credentials count!

What have you learned from the CCWA team in preparing to take the lead?
The CCWA team has given me an incredible welcome, as well as a lot of helpful information and inspiration.  I’ve learned a lot from the team already.  But what has struck me the most is what they’ve taught me about customer service.  Each and every CCWA professional deeply cares about every aspect of customer service, from how we run the front desk to how we conduct workforce training to how we present ourselves on social media.  It’s consistently impressive to see that kind of customer care in action.  I most look forward to working with the CCWA team to establish stretch goals for the organization that we can all get behind, support, and promote.

Photo: CDL graduate Kenneth Pope (left), Elizabeth Creamer and John Tyler President, Dr. Ted Raspiller during a recent event.
Photographer: Clement Britt, Virginia’s Community Colleges.