By engaging executives from business and community colleges, the VIA collaboration will ensure that existing training programs address urgent needs of the community and predict when and where they should expand, the colleges said.
Such programs include heavy construction and maintenance work with an emphasis on road, bridge and tunnel construction; Broadband expansion; and onshore and offshore wind and solar energy infrastructure and distribution that help people get high-paying jobs and get opportunities to advance their careers, they said.
The Indiana-based Lumina Foundation is funding the VIA startup with a two-year grant of $ 400,000. The money will support a review of existing infrastructure programs at Virginia’s 23 community colleges, a plan for initial face-to-face and virtual offerings, and contacting prospective students.
“New investments in infrastructure will create millions of new jobs, many of which require post-high school education but not a four-year degree,” said Kermit Kaleba, strategy director for the Foundation for Employer Aligned Credential Programs. “Community colleges are important partners in ensuring that workers – especially adults of color – can acquire the skills they need to take advantage of these new opportunities.”
Students studying in a high-demand infrastructure area may represent one of the most affordable options in higher education, Virginia Community Colleges said.