A recent study indicates that almost half of the job openings in Virginia require more than a high school education but not a bachelor’s degree. Several grants awarded to Thomas Nelson in the past few months should help prepare students for those positions.
And while students are at the center of each of those grants, support programs play big roles in how successful the programs, and eventually, the students will be. The Peninsula Regional Education Program (PREP) is a key part of two of the recent grants.
In the FastForward program, which was awarded $33,356, PREP will conduct assessment exams for students. Reading and memorization skills are a big requirement for those in Thomas Nelson’s HVAC program, and a lot of math skills are required in the electrical programs. It’s recommended students read at a minimum of a 10th-grade level and have at least eighth-grade math skills. If students aren’t up to those levels, PREP will provide classes (usually about four weeks) to assist them.
“There’s no point putting somebody in (the program) who doesn’t meet those levels because they probably aren’t going to pass,” said Terry Wagner, Grants Program manager for the College.
Wagner said the current pass rate on certification exams in those classes is less than 70 percent. So in addition to assessment exams, PREP instructors will have a classroom presence as well as office hours during the week to provide help.
PREP also will be involved in the Road to Success Virginia Program (RSVP) being started at Thomas Nelson thanks to a $250,000 grant.
The third recent grant, for $35,000, was for articulation agreements involving Thomas Nelson, Tidewater Community College, Northern Virginia Community College and Old Dominion University.
Here’s a closer look at the three grants:
Road to Success Virginia Program
The largest recent grant was for the RSVP. The program will provide adult education, career readiness and occupational training to students who are TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients or part of a family with income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. Thomas Nelson was one of just four VCCS institutions to be awarded the grant.
The program will serve as an entry point into career pathways for low-skilled TANF recipients and provide an opportunity for partners to collaborate to enhance career pathways that support sector strategies.
National Science Foundation Grant
This program, for cybersecurity students, is from the National Science Foundation and involves articulation agreements between the community colleges and Old Dominion University.
In the grant application, it was noted “it is generally accepted that articulation agreements make it easier for students to transfer between institutions.”
The grant will help students navigate their way through their community college curriculum as well as assisting them with the transfer process.
FastForward Improvement Grant
FastForward programs are short training courses offered at VCCS institutions to help students fast-track their careers. Certificates are available in more than three dozen career fields.
This grant has two components. One is a new Logistics program consisting of Certified Logistics Associate (CLA) and a Certified Logistics Technician (CLT) certificates. The other component is student support to promote successful completion of course work and certification exam testing in the Workforce Development electrical and HVAC programs.
As Wagner said in a previous story, “These initiatives will benefit all students. It is not classroom support or a Logistics course for a special cohort of students … This is support that will be offered to all students in the Workforce electrical and HVAC programs, and the Logistics course will be general enrollment.”