CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — Governor Ralph Northam’s statewide workforce development listening tour made its way to Chantilly, Virginia on Tuesday. During his visit, Northam listened to the workforce and education challenges local residents are facing.
Keeping the economy strong in the commonwealth has been the focus of Governor Ralph Northam’s eight-stop listening tour. In a room of business owners, residents and elected officials, preparing students, of all levels for 21st-century jobs was the topic of conversation.
“I think a lot of it is reaching out to our youth and their families and talking to them about the exciting careers that are available to them and then helping them on that pathway. If we can keep that pipeline open from our youth to the workforce then business will be successful in Virginia,” Northam said.
Many business professionals in the room talked about bringing students into the workforce at an earlier age.
“The Dulles Chamber is starting a program to encourage companies to engage with students at the high school level and we hope in the future at the middle school level. Some of our members they find they learn so much from the students how the students are approaching these jobs that they have in engineering, it’s a valuable exchange on both sides,” said Valerie Kaiser, Board Chair for the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.”
Others talked about creating awareness campaigns to show students that there are IT professionals who look and feel like them.
“When you look at it girls are encouraged to go into stem fields actually from the elementary school but by the time they get to middle school the stigma of being in an IT career starts to hit and they don’t have the role models and are not seeing themselves in that career,” Kristie Grinnell, Global CIO for General Dynamics Information Technology said.
The Office of the Chief Workforce Development Adviser has created an online portal for others who wish to provide feedback and ideas.