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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):

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.

Governor McAuliffe Announces 2,173 Credentials Awarded Through New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program

Governor McAuliffe Announces 2,173 Credentials Awarded Through New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program

~ New grants spur big gains in Virginia Community Colleges’ Workforce Credential Training Programs ~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that, through the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant program, Virginia’s Community Colleges provided workforce training that enabled 2,173 Virginians to secure industry-recognized credentials, licenses, and certifications needed for high-demand careers, in the first year of the grant program. Governor McAuliffe awarded the 2,172nd and 2,173rd credentials at an event commemorating this achievement this afternoon.

This milestone nearly triples the number of people who were credentialed last year, bringing the total to 4,268 Virginians. More than half of the credential earners, 2,173, took advantage of the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant program. Training for the remaining 2,095 credentials was funded by employers, federal grants, or other private sources.

“Today’s announcement is a landmark achievement for our workforce development efforts,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe speaking at the announcement event. “Clearly, the timing was right for this innovative initiative to help our businesses find qualified workers and empower more Virginians to seek good-paying jobs. In partnership with the General Assembly and our public and private sector partners, we are filling key gaps in the workforce pipeline and putting more Virginians to work in the new Virginia economy.”

“Whether we’re attracting new businesses to Virginia or helping our existing employers grow and compete, we need to continually strengthen our workforce,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Today’s announcement marks a nearly 180 percent increase in earned credentials in the first year of this program. This significant growth is a great sign for what we can do for Virginia’s workforce moving forward.”

With broad bipartisan support, the 2016 General Assembly created the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Fund and program to encourage more Virginians to prepare for careers that require specialized training, but not necessarily college degrees. This fund provides grants covering two-thirds of the tuition for students who are enrolled in a workforce training program designed to fill in-demand jobs in their home region. The year before the new workforce training grant program went into effect, community colleges provided training for 1,528 Virginians to earn those professional credentials.

“This success is a tribute to the power of collaboration,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “As we ramped up our workforce training capacity to respond to the new state grants program, we also created new training opportunities that motivated students to tap into a variety of other funding sources.”

“This is a significant milestone in Virginia’s efforts to better align the workforce system to help close the skills gap and prepare Virginians for good careers in high priority industries,” added Mark Herzog, Chair of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development.

Virginia’s businesses are eager to hire workers with a wide variety of skills in fields ranging from information technology and advanced manufacturing to education, health care, logistics and transportation. By pursuing industry-recognized credentials, students can qualify for promising careers in weeks or months instead of semesters and years, and without incurring large amounts of student debt.

“Through better and more accessible training, Virginia is boosting its ability to create a 21st century workforce,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This is great news for our business community and for people who are starting out or getting a fresh start on their careers.”

Now entering its second year of operation, Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program greatly reduces the out-of-pocket cost for Virginians to enroll in specified training programs to earn industry-recognized certifications. The Virginia Board of Workforce Development has developed a list of high-demand occupations, which is further vetted as educators work closely with Virginia businesses in regions across the Commonwealth to develop and deliver related workforce training to prepare people for those jobs. Currently, grants are available to support 146 training courses offered throughout Virginia’s 23 community colleges.
To learn more about workforce credential grants, please visit

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


Charlotte Gomer
Office of Governor Terence R. McAuliffe
Press Assistant

Content credit: Office of the Governor.

Photo credit: Clement Britt, Virginia’s Community Colleges

Learn more about the workforce certificates offered at CCWA by visiting

CCWA Names New VP

CCWA Names New VP

Community College Workforce Alliance Names New Vice President

Released on May 04, 2017

A Joint News Release from: Community College Workforce Alliance, John Tyler Community College and Reynolds Community College

RICHMOND, Va.  – The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA) announced this week that Mary Elizabeth Creamer has been named as Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment. The announcement concludes a six-month national search with 231 candidates.

Creamer brings an extensive background in workforce development in the Commonwealth. She comes to CCWA after serving as Senior Advisor for Workforce Development in the Office of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. In that position she oversaw a 25% statewide increase in STEM-H workforce credential attainment in just under two years. She previously served as Director of Education and Workforce Development with the Office of the Secretary of Education for Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Career Pathways and Workforce Development with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

Creamer earned the VCCS Expanding Workforce Opportunities Award in 2013 and is a two-time winner of the VCCS Technology in Education Award. Creamer currently serves on the board of the Virginia Early Childhood Education Foundation. She holds a master’s degree from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University.

“Elizabeth’s unique blend of workforce development and higher education experience is second to none in the Commonwealth,” said Reynolds Community College President Dr. Gary Rhodes. “I know that she will leverage workforce development and credential attainment in our region to create economic vitality.”

John Tyler Community College President Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller added, “Elizabeth is a world-class leader joining a world-class organization. With her extensive background and professional relationships, Elizabeth will further focus and expand our programs to ensure the in-demand workforce training needs of today, as well as tomorrow, are met.”

Creamer is expected to join the Community College Workforce Alliance in mid-June.

The Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA) is the workforce development partnership between Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College serving the economic development and workforce needs in four cities and 12 counties of Central Virginia. The organization provides non-credit training, custom-designed instruction, consulting, skills assessments and educational programs. CCWA offers on-line registration, customer support and courses delivered by expert faculty in three convenient locations, at employer sites and on-line.

Media Contacts:

Holly Walker
Public Relations Manager
John Tyler Community College
(804) 594-1530

Joe Schilling
Director of Communications
Reynolds Community College
(804) 523-5230

Nina Sims
Director of Marketing
Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA)
(804) 523-2289

VDOT Announces Plans for Certification And Inspector Training Programs

VDOT Announces Plans for Certification And Inspector Training Programs

Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance (VTCA)’s Blue Top Newsletter  – Nov. 2016

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA) – the workforce development partnership between John Tyler Community College and Reynolds Community College, are excited to announce a collaboration for the Materials Certification School and the Construction Inspector program. Classes will be provided through CCWA and will comply with VDOT procedures, specifications, and certification requirements.

Materials Certification School:

  • Central Mix Aggregate
  • Concrete Field
  • Concrete Plant
  • Soils and Aggregate Compaction
  • Pavement Marking

Construction Inspector Program

  • Site Manager Certification
  • Plan Reading Certification
  • Documentation & Record Keeping Certification
  • Surveying for Inspectors Certification
  • Roadway & Drainage Certification
  • Structures & Bridges Certification
  • Guardrail Installation Certification

Duane Sayre, VDOT’s Materials Certification Schools Program Manager, said “VDOT hopes to leverage the numerous resources and nationally-recognized expertise of the CCWA to advance Materials Certification Schools to the next level.”

CCWA has unveiled the new VDOT Certification registration website. Participants and companies can conveniently register online or by phone. Individuals can also view other classes and professional development opportunities at

“CCWA is dedicated to creating an industry focused on continuous improvement and technical expertise for the transportation industry,” said Natalie Meredith, CCWA’s Assistant Vice President of Workforce Development. “Our Materials Certification and Construction Inspector credentialing training programs will continue to help ensure the quality of Virginia’s transportation system.”

The 2017 class schedule is very similar to previous years, and experienced individuals can still perform a self-study option. As CCWA communicates with industry, more classes will be offered to ensure individuals and companies can effectively plan their training activities for the year.

Throughout 2017, CCWA will focus on two specialty schools. The Materials Certification School and the Construction Inspector Program. Certification classes in asphalt will be conducted by Germanna Community College, and VDOT will retain ownership of its remaining training programs.

CCWA is pleased to collaborate with the transportation industry to ensure Virginia’s roadways and workforce are operating at maximum capacity and safety. The industry has an impact throughout the Commonwealth, and CCWA is committed to providing the effective educational opportunities and resources.

CCWA will also be hiring new instructors throughout the next year for classes as the new program builds. If you or someone you know is a talented trainer with instructional expertise, please contact:

Wes Smith
Director, Manufacturing & Logistics Program
Community College Workforce Alliance
Phone: 804-523-2296