When it comes to finding a job, a good education is absolutely critical. And having a highly skilled and trained workforce also is vital to job attraction, retention and growth.
Here in the deep south counties that challenge is further magnified by a number of aggravating factors, including job losses in the coal industry and the opioid epidemic.
That’s why we welcome the announcement of the formation of the Alliance for the Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, a partnership consisting of 10 southern West Virginia higher education institutions.
The hope of the new alliance is to connect educational resources and workforce training programs offered in the state to better promote the southern West Virginia region. By utilizing these combined resources, the alliance hopes to create jobs, enhance the state’s business sector and competitive edge, ensure workers have access to the latest training and technology, build long-lasting partnerships and revitalize small communities.
The alliance partner institutions include Bluefield State College, Concord University, Bridge Valley Community and Technical College, Marshall University, Mountwest Community & Technical College, New River Community and Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, West Virginia State University and West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
The alliance will be focusing on the 21-county area including McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Mingo, Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Putnam, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Webster and Wyoming counties.
“Educational and training programs can make a huge difference for a company that needs a talented group of employees. Higher education means jobs,” Marshall University Press Jerome A. Gilbert said in a press conference announcing the alliance.
We agree. As we work to diversify our regional economy, and to attract and maintain new jobs in the manufacturing and technology fields, the availability of a trained and skilled workforce will be critical. This will help with business attraction and economic development in the deep south counties.
The new partnership, and corresponding educational alliance, will certainly help in meeting this critical objective.