Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research has landed more than $581,000 in grants for a program aimed to bridge students with high-wage jobs.
ExperienceWorks is a work-based learning system funded via GO Virginia Region 3 and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. Essentially, students work in real-world jobs to learn the skills they need for that particular profession.
Targeting high school juniors and seniors, the overall goal is to beef up the efforts so 100% of high school grads have access to these kinds of work-based experiences.
“We are grateful for these investments supporting robust public and private partnerships that are required to launch the ExperienceWorks framework,” Julie Brown, director of advanced learning at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, said in a news release.
Brown said the initiative will build on existing existing career development programs. Leaders hope it will give opportunities for employers to work with students on hands-on learning and mentoring.
“The participating school divisions are excited about this opportunity to continue collaborating on programs which benefit their students, faculty and the region’s business community,” Brown said.
Danville and Pittsylvania County are among the participating public school systems in the region.
Money will support 50% of an apprenticeship coordinator position, according to a news release from the Institute. That’s expected to add capacity for employer outreach and developing apprenticeship positions in partnership with regional employers. GO Virginia Region 3 funds will support 50% of the cost for an internship coordinator as well as paid internships, work-readiness boot camps and teacher externships, the releasae stated.
“ExperienceWorks provides targeted industries with skilled employees for high-wage, high-skill jobs to position their companies for growth and will significantly advance the Region 3 Council’s priorities,” said Randy Lail, chair of GO Virginia Region 3, a statewide business-led economic development initiative.
“Apprenticeship and job readiness programs have long been an area of focus for the tobacco commission and I am glad the commission chose to support this program at IALR,” Alexis Ehrhardt, a member of the tobacco commission, said in a statement.
Ehrhardt, the former CEO of the Danville-Pittsylvania Chamber of Commerce, calls the new program a “real asset” since it’ll bring students together with businesses in a particular field.
“I am confident this will result in increased employment opportunities for our students and allow our local businesses to hire for many hard to fill positions,” she said.