VAA Virginia Asphalt Fall/Winter 2022

30 FALL /WINTER 2022 focus for VIA being to strengthen existing programs, so Virginians are trained, placed and retained in key industries. The VIA launch proved its potential to change the trajectory of the lives of unemployed people and their families. Jasmine Quinoes, single mother of three sons, is one such Virginian. A student at Tidewater Community College, Quinoes learned about the VIA’s skilled trades workforce training from her local unemployment office. VIRGINIA INFRASTRUCTURE ACADEMY From Concept to Reality Since 2020, when the pandemic caused shutdowns that cost 480,00 Virginians their jobs, Virginia’s transportation and infrastructure associations have worked to establish a training academy to connect the unemployed with more career pathways. The transportation and infrastructure industries need both unskilled and skilled laborers, including diesel mechanics, welders, power technicians, heavy equipment operators and truck drivers. There seemed an obvious opportunity to fill a skills gap while helping employ more Virginians laid off from other industries. In early 2021, members of the Heavy Construction Contractors Association (HCCA), Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance (VTCA), and Virginia Asphalt Association (VAA) began discussing how to meet the current workforce gap, including that created by a generation of workers at retirement age. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and localities were receiving increased infrastructure spending. With more projects and fewer workers, waiting for someone else to address the workforce issue was not an option. Conversations continued throughout 2021 and began to take shape through Ed Dalrymple of Chemung Contracting Corporation and Randy Stamper, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development, who both sit on the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Board of Visitors. As active voices within the VAA’s training programs, Dalrymple and Stamper invited the VCCS to explore dovetailing efforts with industry needs and aspirations. More industries and related organizations, including Dominion Energy and other broadband, cable and solar energy associations, joined the effort. Within the year, VCCS and its industry partners proposed the developed concept of an infrastructure academy to provide introductory training for individuals interested in the infrastructure construction and maintenance fields. The formal steering committee was comprised of private and VCCS college representatives, charged with identifying workforce needs, securing funds for training and launching a training academy. On August 11, 2022, at Paul D. Camp Community College, the Virginia Infrastructure Academy (VIA) was officially announced. In the announcement, VCCS Interim Chancellor Sharon Morrissey and Virginia Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater outlined how VIA fills a critical need, citing the Department of Labor statistic that Virginia had 110,000 fewer workers in July 2022 compared to the workforce before the pandemic. Chancellor Morrissey also shared the The Virginia Infrastructure Academy was officially announced in Franklin, Virginia with a celebratory launch Jasmine Quinoes