Education / Health / Science / Technology / Virginia

Governor McAuliffe announces significant gains in STEM-H workforce credentials

Governor Elect Terry McAuliffe

Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia’s state agencies granted 5,778 more STEM-H Workforce Credentials during fiscal year 2016 than in fiscal year 2015. In August 2014, the Governor issued Executive Order 23 Establishing the New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, which challenged Virginia’s education and workforce development programs to produce 50,000 STEM-H Workforce Credentials a year by the end of the Governor’s administration. Virginia’s agencies are now producing 46,230 STEM-H workforce credentials a year.

STEM-H Workforce Credentials include industry certifications, occupational licenses, registered apprenticeship credentials, and college certificates and associate of applied science degrees aligned with STEM-H occupational skill sets. These workforce credentials can help job seekers attain good paying, high-demand technician, technologist, and trades jobs across the Commonwealth. Last year, according to a Burning Glass report, the Commonwealth had 175,000 vacancies for these jobs.

“I congratulate our community colleges, school divisions, and workforce development partners and programs for their progress in reaching our ambitious goal of 50,000 STEM-H Workforce Credentials a year during my administration,” said Governor McAuliffe. “For every two jobs that require a bachelor’s degree today, there are seven jobs that require an associate degree or an industry recognized credential. I signed the New Economy Workforce Credentials Act this year and a biennial budget of almost $20 million so that job seekers can promptly get the training and credentials they need through their local community colleges or the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. We will continue to expand workforce training and credentials programs to ensure Virginians are filling highly skilled jobs in the new Virginia economy.”

“We’re seeing an impressive leap forward in both attainment rates of industry certifications and the ability of key workforce development partners to collect and report industry certification data,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “School divisions alone saw a statewide increase of 49 percent in their students’ attainment of STEM-H workforce credentials in the two years since Executive Order 23, and community colleges are reporting strong numbers of industry certification awards as they strengthen their capacity to report high value certifications. Clearly, we need to keep driving attainment of credentials that count for jobs and business growth.”

There is increasing evidence of the value of industry certifications to workers and an increasing number of jobs are calling for applicants to have an industry certification or license. Median weekly earnings of full-time workers are 34 percent higher with a certification or license than earnings for those without a certification, and unemployment rates are lower among workers with workforce certifications.
“Our long term goal is to make Virginia the best educated state by 2030,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “This year’s increase in STEM-H workforce credentials marks an important milestone for the Commonwealth as we move ever closer to the Governor’s ambitious goal. When more students earn credentials in high-demand fields, we all prosper. I applaud the hard work of our educational institutions for making these life-changing opportunities more accessible than ever before.”

For the second year, the Council for Virginia’s Future collected, compiled, and analyzed workforce credential data from seven state agencies to complete an annual report on statewide progress towards the Governor’s 50,000 STEM-H Workforce Credentials goal. Participating agencies include Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), Virginia Community College System (VCCS), State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), Virginia Department of Health Professions (VDHP), Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations (DPOR), and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC).

STEM-H Workforce Credentials that count towards the Governor’s goal must align with occupations which require a high-degree of STEM-H knowledge and skills. Additionally, these occupations are limited to those with an average annual wage of $34,400 or more and require training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree.