West Virginia University at Parkersburg
300 Campus Drive Parkersburg WV 26104
Phone: 304-424-8203 | Fax: 304-424-8315
WVU Parkersburg President helps link workforce training to high-demand jobs.
CONTACT: WVU Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage, 304-424-8200.
The presidents of West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Washington State Community College joined 16 other community college presidents from the Appalachia region in the first field meeting of the federal Interagency Coordinating Council on Appalachia (ICCA), held at Zane State College in Zanesville, Ohio.
Marie Foster Gnage of WVU Parkersburg and Charlotte Hatfield of Washington State joined in a roundtable discussion as they explored ways in which federal, state and local governments, industry and community colleges can work together to improve educational and training opportunities for students and workers.
They were among seven presidents selected to represent the 111 community colleges in the Appalachian region. The seven roundtable participants were invited to represent their peers based on their record of leadership in their communities and through the Association of Community Colleges of Appalachia.
The meeting featured Mason M. Bishop, U.S. Department of Labor deputy assistant secretary for Employment and Training Administration, who participated in the discussion with community college presidents and other regional leaders. The session was moderated by Anne B. Pope, Appalachian Regional Commission federal co-chair.
Last week's (Sept. 22) meeting took place against the backdrop of Appalachia's shifting economic base and the unexpected demands on local resources as many communities across the region open their doors to evacuees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. According to many of the participants, the storm has led to an unprecedented surge in the number of new workers seeking to quickly acquire the skills needed for jobs being created by rebuilding requirements along the Gulf Coast. Others are seeking skills needed by industries in areas where some of the evacuees intend to stay.
The college presidents were invited to provide their input into this strategy session because of the strong position of community colleges to prepare workers for jobs in high-growth industries, meeting organizers noted.
"There is a pending shortage of technical and skilled labor in Appalachia," said Co-chair Pope. "Ninety percent of the Regionís population lives within 50 miles of a community college and because of their close connection to local labor markets, they are well positioned and nimble enough to respond quickly to the evolving needs of both workers and local industry."
Discussions focused on how federal, state and local governments, industry and community colleges can work together to improve educational and training opportunities for students and workers across the 13 state Appalachian region.
"A central goal of this meeting is to build effective, sustainable partnerships among the public and private sectors, local workers, and community colleges to increase the number of workers qualified for jobs in high-growth industries in Appalachia," said Pope.
The roundtable was followed by a workshop conducted by the Department of Labor on applying for federal workforce development grants and an overview of the Presidentís Job Training initiatives.
The ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life.