A Future for Valley Workers

By: Shane Symolon Email
By: Shane Symolon Email

A company new to the Valley is offering a helping hand to strengthen the workforce.

SRI International held a conference Friday to bring together businesses, schools and community leaders from around the Valley in order to launch the framework for its program.

The groups unveiled their Master Plan for 21st century Workforce Transitions. Organizers say it started with research to find the gaps in the Valley's workforce training.

"We were looking at the number of high school students who graduate and go directly into work and how they're probably not ready, they're not work ready, not interview ready to go into a new job," says Sharon Johnson, with SRI.

The focus is to develop a better workforce with continuing education programs and skilled education after high school. Neal Menefee sits on the Workforce Task Force, and says the group is just starting to figure out how to make the plan a reality.

He says, "Changes in some of the educational curriculum that can be tuned up to be geared to what the economic future will look like."

Augusta County Supervisor Wendell Coleman likes the idea. He says he's seen too many workers leave the area because they don't have the right skills or the jobs they wanted just weren't nearby.

"That our young people who are coming out of our schools are in fact better prepared for jobs of the 21st century, we know those jobs are changing," says Coleman.

Members of the partnership say, just because they're looking toward the future, doesn't mean they want to forget about existing industries and agriculture.

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