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Mark R. Warner, Governor of Virginia

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Virginia rated Number One in nation

Workforce Development

Virginia needs a world-class workforce to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. On Governor Warner's watch, state workforce training and development programs have been streamlined and better coordinated to be more efficient and accountable.

New initiatives, like the Career Readiness Certificate and Race to GED, are also transforming workplace training in the Commonwealth.

Education for a Lifetime's broad scope includes adults as well as the K-12 grades.  Governor Warner has always been committed to giving all Virginians better opportunities to improve their employment outlook through education, training -- and higher wages.

The Governor's Workforce Development initiative has three parts:

  1. Increasing the education levels of Virginia's workforce by doubling the number of GEDs earned in Virginia.  That would raise the current average of 10,000 per year to 20,000 per year.
  2. Creating a career readiness certificate that gives workers a portable, recognized workforce credential and shows employers that job seekers have the required job skills; and
  3. Reorganizing Virginia's 22 workforce development programs into a more streamlined and effective workforce development system that provides a better-trained workforce to employers and greater employment opportunities for Virginia's workers.
Race to GED

The economic benefits of getting a GED are indisputable:

• A Virginia worker with a GED or high school degree makes more than double the income of a worker without a GED or degree - $22,000/year instead of just $10,000/year.

• More than 700,000 working-age Virginians (18-64) do not have a GED or high school diploma.

• In 40 out of the 134 localities in Virginia, more than 30 percent of adults do not have a GED or diploma. The overall education level of a workforce is a critical factor in attracting new businesses and jobs.

Progress in doubling the number of GEDs awarded in two years has been made through two major initiatives:

1. Targeted marketing efforts across the Commonwealth aimed at educating adults about the financial and personal benefits to getting a GED. Governor Warner formed a statewide partnership between NASCAR, NASCAR racing teams, and the Commonwealth to show workers how to "accelerate your earnings" by getting a GED. The current spokesperson for this effort is NASCAR racer and Emporia native Elliott Sadler.

2. Creation of pilot "Fast Track GED" programs in at least five regions of the state. These pilot programs identify individuals most likely to benefit from a GED and encourage them to participate in an intensive, three-to-four month GED training program.

In October 2005, Governor Warner announced that 35,000 Virginians have earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate since the implementation of the Race to GED program in 2003. In 2004, the number of GED graduates increased by 1,400 over 2003, and 2005 is expected to see 2,600 additional graduates over 2004.


In addition, the governor announced several enhancements to the Race to GED program, including:

Virginia GED Bridge Scholarship: Funded by the Alcoa Foundation, the scholarship provides money for graduates to continue their studies at a community college. In addition to the $50,000 for scholarships this year, the Alcoa Foundation will provide an additional $20,000 for scholarship funds in 2006.

GED Fast Track Career Bridge to the Health Care Industry: This new initiative integrates GED instruction with industry-specific concepts to prepare graduates for jobs in the expanding health-care industry. It will be piloted in Bristol, Charlottesville, Martinsville, Virginia Beach, and Chesterfield County.

GED Test-Out: Free testing is available through November to people who make a qualifying score on the practice test.  GED Test-Out billboards and commercials being aired on more than 50 radio and cable stations have increased informational calls to the GED Hotline, 877-37 MYGED (877-376-9433), by 300 percent since August 2005. In September, 1,967 adults took at least one of the five GED competency tests, 1,191 completed all five tests, and 1,039 earned GED certification.

Community for Opportunity Grants: Totaling $125,000, these grants will help 100 GED recipients and assist an additional 100 in workforce training. The grants are a partnership between the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Education. Community for Opportunity grants will go to Halifax County Public Schools Adult Education Program, Crossroads Shelter in Wytheville, the New River Community College Adult Education Program, King and Queen County Public Schools, Region 12 Adult Education Program, and the Southside Community College - Alberta Campus.

Career Readiness Certificate

Until Education for a Lifetime, Virginia did not have a portable credential that confirms to employers what workplace skills an individual possesses. The Workforce Development initiative has created a new Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) that verifies the certificate holder has reached an employer-recognized level of workforce literacy. To date, over 5,200 Virginia workers have earned their CRCs.

The Certificate ensures employers that the worker has achieved a competency level in basic skills areas that nearly all jobs require --reading for information, applied math, and locating information.

All Virginians are eligible to earn a Career Readiness Certificate by taking basic skills assessment tests administered in a variety of settings -- One-Stop Career Development Centers, community colleges, local departments of Social Services, and other appropriate locations.

Visit the Career Readiness Certificate site for more information.

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Governor of Virginia - Mark R. Warner


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