RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia has received a $5 million Department of Defense grant to train workers for Virginia’s defense manufacturing industries in Danville and Hampton Roads.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that the grant will fund the Virginia Defense Manufacturing Community, which includes the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Southern Virginia, and Old Dominion University’s Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem.
According to a recent release, the $5 million grant will create a K-12 to college training pipeline, helping students gain the skills needed for defense manufacturing industries jobs. The grant will also ensure Virginia has the number of workers needed to support the industry’s needs.
Virginia officials say the training pipeline will increase manufacturing capacity, capability, resiliency, and diversity in the field.
“Virginia is a recognized leader in defense manufacturing,” Northam said, “This groundbreaking partnership will help diversify and modernize the nation’s best maritime workforce to build and sustain the world’s best Navy, while providing young people a pathway toward fulfilling jobs in a high-tech, well-paid industry.”
The project plans to build a Manufacturing Engineering Technology community college-to-university pathway that awards credentials to manufacturing engineers.
Students will be introduced to the manufacturing workforce opportunities in elementary school. As they get older, they will have access to more advanced curriculum related to their preferred manufacturing field, and access to employment opportunities at the high school, community college, and university levels.
“We aim to integrate K-12, community college, and university programs with cutting-edge training resources to deliver the strongest, most diverse, and most adaptable manufacturing workforce,” said Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Executive Director Mark Gignac.
The grant will be invested over the years 2022 and 2023.
Virginia has a large military presence, especially in the Norfolk areas, which makes it opportune for Department of Defense funding.