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Adams touts impact of Center of Excellence

SoVaNow.com / August 07, 2014
The Board of Supervisors heard Monday from Dr. Betty Adams of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, who talked about the newly established Center of Excellence at the SVHEC — a job training program that focues on “mid-skills” training across 11 southside counties.

Adams described the new center as “a feather in our cap.”

Three Centers of Excellence will be established in South Boston, Martinsville and a site to be determined in Southwest Virginia.

Adams said the Virginia Tobacco Commission back in 2011 asked the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to recommend ways that southern and southwest Virginia might be positioned to become an advanced manufacturing hub. BCG recommended that three Centers of Excellence, two in Southside Virginia and a third in Southwest Virginia be established to train middle skilled workers for the 6,000 jobs expected to come this way by 2017.

With the current technical education system unable to meet the projected demand for middle-skill workers BCG reported that a critical skills gap could ruin the opportunity for an advanced manufacturing hub to come to Southside Virginia.

Middle skill workers — welders, precision machinists and industrial maintenance mechanics — will come from high school dual enrollment programs which will feed into community college programs. Or they may come from retired veterans, the unemployed or those changing careers. Under the Center for Excellence model, community college programs in the three priority areas will offer short-term specialty training and hands-on-experience which will quickly elevate students to middle skill level.

Community college programs in the three areas will have the flexibility to be adjusted to lay the foundation for middle skills training that will take place at the Centers of Excellence and will be adjusted to prepare students to qualify for third party, industry recognized specialty level credentials. These industry recognized credentials — through AWS, NIMS and Siemens will be an important selling point in attracting manufacturing prospects to Southern and Southwest Virginia, Adams pointed out.



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