Virginia Ready Initiative’s Mission Statement:
The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready) is a business-led partnership. Our mission is to rapidly reskill Virginians for in-demand jobs by supporting credentials in high-growth industries where Scholars have a better chance of finding career pathways that are family-sustaining and fulfilling.
Evolving Our Mission and Approach:
In the Spring of 2020, as VA Ready analyzed how best to help Virginians rapidly reskill for in-demand jobs, we concluded that we could uniquely fulfill a role that no other workforce organization effort had.
Our first step was to interview over 30 of Virginia’s best and brightest businesses to discover and verify what companies and industries had ongoing needs for skilled talent now, and would need more skilled talent in the future.
Second, we looked for an education partner who could provide training to earn credentials to match the skills needed by these businesses and industries.
We discovered the highly successful FastForward program already in place across the 23 colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The FastForward program has high completion rates and offers a variety of funding sources, making it affordable for nearly everyone who enrolls.
Third, we decided to offer a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award for those motivated Virginians who enroll, complete, and achieve a credential in one of 34 rigorous, accelerated credential programs that we support.
Then, we developed a program where our employer business partners can promote their job openings widely to VA Ready Scholars who can apply and interview for a new job and a whole new career pathway. VA Ready also engages with Scholars in recruitment marketing campaigns for business partners including co-hosting virtual career fairs, email marketing, and other events designed to educate VA Ready Scholars about available jobs.
VA Ready partners with businesses and the VCCS to incentivize Virginians to pursue training for in-demand jobs, and supports them along their journey to a new career. We also work with our business partners to provide career-readiness training in areas such as resume writing, interview preparation, and more.
When VA Ready was first launched, our initial mission was to support Virginians who had found themselves unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We soon realized that the devastating workforce effects of COVID-19 were not confined to only the unemployed, and updated our eligibility criteria in October 2020 to include any Virginian whose employment has been disrupted due to the pandemic, including situations in which a person is underemployed and working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
In early 2021, we all began to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel — but we knew that our work was not done. Virginians everywhere were still in need of support as they worked to take their futures into their own hands, learn in-demand new skills, and find family-sustaining careers. And more significantly, an unexpected result of the pandemic was a growing labor shortage.
We challenged ourselves to think even bigger — could an organization focused on one small subset of Virginia’s unemployed become a resource for the rest of the state? In June 2021, we officially opened up the VA Ready program to include all Virginians who are motivated to learn a new skill and find a fulfilling career, regardless of employment status.
This change was an important step for the future of VA Ready and made our program available to thousands of those who were not previously eligible, including veterans and transitioning military members. And despite the changes to our program, we’ve remained committed to only supporting high-growth industries where Scholars have a better chance of finding family-sustaining and fulfilling careers.
Our new mission: to help as many Virginians as possible rapidly gain new skills for in-demand jobs in the Commonwealth.