Non-Profit VA Ready Focused on Rapid Training for In-Demand Jobs

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Non-profit VA Ready announced this week a $30,000 award from Microsoft. The non-profit focuses on quickly training disadvantaged workers in Virginia with new job skills that are in demand.

“Over one million Virginians have experienced employment disruption, including unemployment, due to Covid-19. VA Ready’s goal is to reward Virginians who seize the moment and commit themselves to training for in-demand jobs,” VA Ready’s website states. “The VA Ready Scholars program was created for people who recently had their employment disrupted – laid-off, furloughed, or now without steady, full-time work – by the Covid 19 pandemic.”

The non-profit was founded in June by former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin and his wife Suzanne Youngkin, who pulled together a network of other business leaders, according to a VA Ready spokesperson.  A press release states 450 students are currently in the program.

In the press release, VA Ready CEO Caren Merrick said, “As an industry led initiative, our Business Partners are key to achieving our mission.” She added, “Microsoft’s support will go a long way toward helping our fellow Virginians get back on their feet and back to work.”

VA Ready partners with the FastForward program, which works with community colleges to give students real job skills and credentials in six to 12 weeks. In an email, the spokesperson said VA Ready provides financial help to graduates of the FastForward/VA Ready program.

“The average out-of-pocket cost of a FastForward training program is $1,100 according to [their] website (and that is without the financial aid that many individuals receive). Once scholars complete their programs and pass the respective credential test, VA Ready awards them with a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award. So the cost of the programs are essentially negated,” the spox wrote in an email.

“Once they pass and complete their certifications they are given the opportunity to interview for roles at VA Ready’s business partners, a growing list that includes Carilion Health, Dominion Energy, and Bank of America among others (full list of partners here). And all of VA Ready’s credential programs are designed to teach Virginians in-demand skills in growing industries like healthcare, tech, and various trades (full list of programs here).”

Jobs listed include Machinist, Certified Nurses Assistant, Information Security Analysts and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers. Different programs have varying start and end dates; some students are completing the programs in November and December.

The spokesperson wrote, “Interested individuals can sign up at the VA Ready website (www.vaready.org) or specifically here (https://vaready.org/learn/how-do-i-sign-up/).”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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