Leaders from community colleges across Virginia gathered last week at the 2017 HIRE Education Conference. The HIRE Conference is an annual event serving leaders at community colleges by creating a forum to share best practices and learnings about the evolving economic landscape as it relates to education and career pathways.
The conference focused on best practices within the field of Workforce Development, a critical division within local community colleges that connects economic trends and labor market research with talent development opportunities and training for students.
Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, gave the keynote speech on opening night. He spoke about the influence of Virginia’s community colleges and about the value of the Fast Forward VA initiative, which helps Virginians quickly develop more opportunities within their careers by gaining necessary training and credentials.
The NOVA Workforce team participated in the event and had the opportunity to lead two breakout sessions.
The first breakout session led by NOVA Workforce was titled “Leveraging Labor Market Research to Inform Your Business Engagement Strategy.” The speakers were NOVA Workforce’s Melanie Stover, Director of Strategic Business Engagement, and Alex Cooley, Labor Market Information Analyst. John Shaw, partner of NOVA Workforce and representative of Northern Virginia Technology Council, also led the discussion.
The second session led by NOVA Workforce, titled “Using Internships Effectively as a Career Readiness Tool,” was led by Erika Coddington, Student Engagement Coordinator, and Michelle Crespo, Career Services Specialist.
The conference also included a showcase for each of the colleges at the event to highlight their work. NOVA Workforce demonstrated how it addressed the issue of unqualified students seeking credential programs simply because the programs are a low cost and increase employability. NOVA Workforce’s process of pre-assessments, certifications as prerequisites, and advising for proper programs has nearly doubled the pass rate of certification tests. Building on this concept, NOVA Workforce believes it can continue to increase enrollment and success rates, and ultimately, employment outcomes for students. Viewers of the showcase, from college to VCCS staff to the Chancellor himself, were impressed and eager to learn more.
At the final session on Thursday, a graduate on the Virginia Community College system shared how her educational experiences have empowered her to change her career and her life. The student’s testimony was a moving reminder of the impact of workforce development opportunities within the community, not just at a broad level, but also on an individual level as educational and job opportunities change lives.