Businesses Gain Workforce Insights at Valley OJT Appreciation Event

Businesses Gain Workforce Insights at Valley OJT Appreciation Event





Jeff Stapel, Chairman                                                                                    Brian Brown, Secretary/Treasurer

Mike Lowe, Vice-Chairman                                                                          Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive Officer


For Immediate Release

Contact Information:
Debby Hopkins, 540.442.7134,
Sharon Johnson, 540.442.7134,


Businesses Gain Workforce Insights at Valley OJT Appreciation Event


Virginia’s Chief Academic Officer presents new profile of life-ready graduate.

Harrisonburg, VA (March 23, 2017). The Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board (SVWDB) convened more than 50 Valley business and economic development representatives this week to recognize the success of a $5M Valley On-the-Job Training grant, and to offer a preview of the results of a new manufacturing workforce study. Attendees were also provided a glimpse of the future profile of Virginia high school graduates, as presented by Dr. Steven M. Constantino, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction for the Virginia Department of Education.

The four-year, $5M Valley OJT grant from the U.S. Department of Labor ends March 31, 2017. The aim of the technical skills training grant was to help unemployed and underemployed individuals get back to work in advanced manufacturing and healthcare occupations. Wage reimbursements to businesses offset costs while new hires trained. Nearly 600 individuals were hired by 92 employers who received over $3.2M in wage reimbursement.

“The success of this Valley OJT workforce initiative was phenomenal - 580 individuals, 187% over the original goal of 310, obtained good jobs with support from this initiative. Success stories, from completing registered apprenticeship programs at Hershey (Stuarts Draft), promotions at Shamrock (Verona) and Ashworth (Winchester), and support for business growth at the Speech and Language Center (Harrisonburg), reinforce the effectiveness of the on-the-job training model for individuals and businesses. We were excited to show our appreciation for the businesses who partnered with us in this grant and who participate in our workforce surveys,” said Debby Hopkins, Workforce Officer and Project Director for Valley OJT initiatives.

Attendees at the Staunton and Winchester meetings received highlights from “The Changing Manufacturing Workforce in the Shenandoah Valley,” a Chmura Economics & Analytics study commissioned by the SVWDB to collect and analyze data on manufacturing employer’s workforce concerns and to understand the current trends in the Valley manufacturing labor market.

Dr. Constantino engaged the group with his keynote address, “Reforming the Profile of a Graduate.” He spoke of the need to develop a more “life-ready” graduate who possesses workplace skills, community engagement and civic responsibility, interest in career exploration, as well as content knowledge.

In addition to the soon completed OJT training grant, SVWDB also has ongoing Valley OJT initiatives, including a $4 American Apprenticeship Initiative, on-the-job wage reimbursement for dislocated workers, and support for incumbent worker training. SVWDB staff members are available to present highlights of the Chmura study or discuss ongoing Valley OJT initiatives at business and community events.