November 2, 2023 | Virginia’s Talent Development Ecosystem: Connecting a Credential Ready Workforce

In workforce, it's about the people.  Empowering all people to achieve a career pathway that offers economic mobility.  At Virginia Ready, this means preparing a credential ready workforce. To achieve this, our approach has always been “Skills First”:

  • Working with businesses to understand what skills are needed for their open positions
  • Identifying education opportunities that are accessible to all Virginians that offer career mobility within business/IT, healthcare, and skilled trades, 
  • And ultimately leading job seekers from credential to career. 

On November 2, 2023, we gathered many of our business, education, and community organization leaders contributing to Virginia’s Talent Development Ecosystem to participate in a Design Lab to offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues in workforce development. Among others, attendees included: 

    • Healthcare organizations
    • IT companies
    • Construction service groups
    • Community funders
    • Community colleges
    • Workforce nonprofits

While Virginia Ready sits with the job seeker [scholar] at the hub of credential-based workforce development, the success of that job seeker relies on 

  1. The intersection of business & education and 
  2. Advocates from community based organizations. 


By connecting these entities we are able to harness collaborative efforts and therefore work towards increasing the quality and success of individual scholars on their career path. 

Deputy Secretary of Labor, Anthony Reedy joined the Design Lab to provide an update on the consolidation of Virginia's workforce programs and creation of The Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement, which will create, sustain, and retain a highly skilled workforce. This provided attendees a background on how the state is supporting and participating in the development of Virginia’s workforce. 

Chief Curriculum Officer for Deloitte's Future of Work Institute. Blythe Kladney then kicked off the Design Lab with an energizing and eye-opening keynote presentation–The Future is Human. She emphasized that jobs have rigid degree and work experience requirements, whereas skills are flexible and transferable across industries. Jobs have linear progression in titles, pay, and responsibilities, yet skills are attainable and scalable through upskilling and continuous learning. 

“It’s not just ‘train, place, retain’ anymore–it’s redefining workforce development with an ecosystems-based approach” shared Blythe. 

During the Design Lab attendees were matched at tables based on their role within the ecosystem to collaborate on solutions for three areas impacting today’s workforce: 

  1. Addressing the skills mismatch and identifying resources that would enable the scholar to be a competitive candidate in today’s job market.
  2. Discussing barriers to entering the workforce such as access to education, transportation, and digital equity.
  3. Identifying an approach that would help qualify a candidate vs. disqualifying an individual during the hiring process

Between six tables of workforce experts, we had an engaged and lively discussion on solutions to each of these issues, and we heard from many attendees that it was an opportunity to rethink how their organizations and others can uplift skills-based candidates. Check out the Design Lab findings here. 

Just as we know work is changing, hiring practices are changing as well. It takes everyone in the talent development ecosystem to test and pivot to ensure job seekers are given an equal opportunity to achieve economic mobility, and we are grateful for those who were and continue to be engaged in this conversation.  

Skills First partners are critical to the ecosystem and play an active role with Virginia Ready by helping scholars gain access to a network that will ultimately help propel them to advance their careers and embark on career pathways leading to family sustaining wages. 

Interested in becoming a Skills First partner with Virginia Ready? Contact us today to become part of Virginia's workforce ecosystem.

Thank you to our participants: 

  • Bank of America
  • Better Housing Coalition
  • Blue Ridge Bank
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond
  • Branch Group
  • BWX Technologies
  • Cameron Foundation
  • Community College Workforce Alliance 
  • Chamber RVA
  • Chmura Economics & Analytics
  • Community Foundation of Richmond
  • CURE
  • Deloitte
  • Dominion Energy
  • DragonFli Group
  • Genworth Financial
  • Germanna Community College
  • Hampton Roads Workforce Council
  • Head Start
  • Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Office of the Governor
  • Pathways-Virginia
  • Petersburg City Public Schools
  • Phlow Corp
  • Piedmont Virginia Community College
  • Sentara
  • Sentara College of Health Sciences
  • Skills for America’s Future
  • State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg
  • Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association
  • Virginia Learns
  • Virginia Peninsula
  • YUPRO Placement

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