This week, I was able to co-patron one of the best pieces of legislation I have seen during my time as Delegate. Kathy Byron, the Delegate from Bedford, has been working on work force development for ten years, and Monday the House will pass the first workforce development grant program in Virginia’s history. HB 66 will provide a means to invest in Virginians to help close the skills gap, expand economic opportunities for individuals, and strengthen the state economy.
HB 66 is a performance-based grant program to reward individuals who complete a noncredit workforce training program and earn the related industry-recognized credential in a high-demand field. Let me explain how this will work.
Subject to the availability of funds, any eligible student who enrolls in a noncredit workforce training program offered by an eligible institution may apply for a grant to cover two-thirds of the cost. At the time of enrollment the student pays one-third of the program cost and signs an agreement to complete the training program. In the event of non-completion an additional one-third of the program cost will be the responsibility of the student. Conversely, the education institution is responsible for one-third of the cost if they do not get the student to finish the program.
Eligible institutions will include comprehensive community colleges, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, New College Institute, Roanoke Higher Education Center.
The Virginia Board of Workforce Development will maintain on its website a list of high-demand fields and industry certificates that will be eligible for the grants. Industry-recognized credentials range from crane operators to welders, laboratory techs, manufacturing technicians and many more. Click here to see a full list of industry certificates.
HB 66 represents “The Virginia Way” of doing business. Everyone involved has skin in the game with a laser focused goal of closing the skills gap in our workforce by creating opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth.
To track the progress of these pieces of legislation or any other, please visit lis.virginia.gov.
As always, I appreciate hearing from my constituents. Please stay in touch and let me know your thoughts on issues important to you. You may contact my office by emailing me at [email protected] or by calling (804) 698-1027.