VA Ready Hits 3k Scholar Enrollment Milestone

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Since its founding, The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), has helped three thousand Virginians obtain the skills to secure employment within high-growth industries across the Commonwealth while helping businesses find the talent they need.

The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), a 501(c)(3) public-private partnership dedicated to reskilling Virginians and helping them qualify for in-demand positions, today achieves an enrollment milestone with the participation of 3,000 Scholars across the state.

“Reaching 3,000 Virginians and providing them with the opportunity to change their lives has been inspiring to everyone here at VA Ready,” said Caren Merrick, chief executive officer of VA Ready. “We could never have imagined that the pandemic would not only impact Virginians’ employment, but also negatively impact businesses with an unfolding labor shortage. The work we’re doing is helping Virginians throughout the Commonwealth qualify for jobs that will ensure their financial stability, and helping businesses find the skilled talent they need to grow.”

VA Ready was founded with a mission of helping VA residents gain new skills and find careers for in-demand industries like healthcare, technology, cybersecurity, manufacturing, and skilled trades.

The initiative provides many incentives for people to gain new skills in accelerated training courses when they enroll in any VA Ready-approved FastForward course with the Virginia Community College System. After completing their course and credential, Scholars will receive a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award. And, due to a variety of funding opportunities through the FastForward program, the courses are often entirely free of charge.

VA Ready Scholars are motivated, passionate, and bold, and they are challenging outdated notions that assume a college degree is a necessary key to success. VA Ready Scholars have the grit and work ethic to complete rigorous, accelerated training. All VA Ready Scholars have work experience, and with their new credentials, they are ready to work.

“The pandemic forced me out of my administrative role and now that I’m in IT technical support, I feel like I’ve really found my niche. VA Ready was key to getting my foot in the door for the career that I ultimately wanted,” said Anthony Geraci, a VA Ready Scholar.

Once they complete their credentials, Scholars have the unique opportunity to interview with VA Ready’s 24 business partners, including EY, Bank of America, Genworth Financial, Dominion Energy, Sentara, PwC, Huntington Ingalls, Carilion Clinic, SAIC, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and many others.

“Verisign is proud to partner with VA Ready to provide education and employment opportunities for individuals impacted by COVID-19,” said Ellen Petrocci, senior vice president of human resources at Verisign. “We congratulate them and the 3,000 scholars who have been accepted into the program since its inception. This significant milestone is a great achievement for a program which not only enhances the lives of the participants, but also benefits employers and the Virginia economy as a whole.”

Helping 3,000 Virginians change their lives and reskill into in-demand industries has been the highlight of VA Ready’s work so far. Businesses looking to increase diversity in their hiring will find a pool of skilled talent. Of those Scholars currently enrolled, 44% are Black, and 55% are women, and there are many more Virginians ready to reskill and qualify for in-demand jobs. With that in mind, VA Ready recently announced that the eligibility criteria for credentialing programs has expanded to include any Virginian willing and ready to make a change and reskill into an in-demand industry, regardless of employment status. VA Ready is also expanding eligibility to transitioning veterans and their spouses.

For more information about VA Ready, to apply for the program, and companies looking for skilled, credentialed workers in healthcare, manufacturing and skilled trades, and IT and cybersecurity, visit http://www.vaready.org.

About the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready)
VA Ready is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that launched in June 2020 with a mission to help thousands of Virginians access the short-term training needed to find jobs in today’s most in-demand industries. With its Public-Private-Partnership design, VA Ready brings together the Virginia Community College System's (VCCS) 23 colleges, the Commonwealth's FastForward program, and more than 20 business partners who employ millions of Virginians. VA Ready Scholars have access to 34 healthcare, technology and other skilled training programs; learn the skills needed to secure one of today's most in-demand positions; receive $1,000 upon credential completion; and are connected to VA Ready's business partners for employment opportunities. Learn more at http://www.vaready.org.

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Amy Lawrence
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