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By Dawn Klavon
Northern Virginia Community College’s Woodbridge campus offers in-demand, accelerated training options for new and current professionals.
“That’s so important for the region, especially the Prince William area,” said Hoang Nguyen, NOVA Associate Director of External Communications. “Families are looking to find really prosperous career opportunities.”
NOVA Woodbridge’s continuing education and professional development training center (called the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training – WRC) is designed to attract partnerships and students of all ages looking to advance their career. These program pathways enable incoming students to attain new, in-demand skills and industry credentials in fast-growing sectors such as information technology, cybersecurity, business management, and healthcare.
“The programs are written for success,” said Katie Jennings, Associate Director of Allied Health Programs. “The curriculums are written around the test plans so that students are successful in earning their credentials.”
NOVA Workforce also offers courses such as American culture and language skills and TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) to prepare students for college and the workforce.
“Since we are the workforce division of the college, we really try to make sure that our programs are aligned to the labor market data,” said Scott Wood, Associate Director of IT Workforce Programs. “We’re constantly getting updates on what area employers are looking for.”
Though the continuing education opportunities and professional development training programs are not for credit, many of the classes lead toward a credential in the end of the course, preparing motivated students for work in their chosen industry.
“The fact that you can go through our training programs, sit for an industry certification, and receive a nationally recognized credential, I think, is the best fit for our students,” said Wood.
WRC programs enable area employers and their employees to expand their professional expertise and stay in step with the ever-changing technological advancements in today’s business environment.
“We try to offer our courses in a variety of scheduling formats, since most of our students are adult learners,” Wood said.
The WRC is also the home of a large professional testing center that proctors industry certification exams for business professionals, employee candidates, career switchers, English-language learners, and others.
Information Technology Industry Opportunities
According to NOVA officials, information technology occupations make up about 10% of Northern Virginia’s
workforce. In addition, the Northern Virginia region is projected to add 2,100 brand new IT jobs every year, on average, over the next 10 years (or 1.6% annually). NOVA’s research has concluded that the median wage for IT occupations in the Northern Virginia region is $115,000, significantly above the median for all occupations ($58,000). “I think the most important thing for people to know is (the WRC programs) are a pathway to a good-paying job without this huge time investment,” Wood said.
Get to Work In Less Time
With workforce credentialing, students can get a job in their chosen field quickly. If they choose to pursue a traditional degree later, they can often count the certification credits toward their degree (through credit for prior learning). The classes are delivered in-person, hybrid, and virtually.
“We found that after the pandemic, a lot of students and faculty got used to not having to fight traffic and do that commute,” Wood said. “We find that our hybrid and virtual classes are actually more popular than our in-person classes.”
The WRC programs won’t break the bank for students, either. Through a program called FastForward, qualifying students can pay a fraction of tuition, which amounts to huge savings. The only requirement is that students are domiciled in the state for at least 12 months.
“You can get the program for a third of the cost,” Jennings said. “The student pays the first third of the tuition upon registration, the state will pay us the second third when the student successfully completes the course, and the third part of the tuition is paid to us from the state when the student earns their credential.”
The combination of short-term timelines and real wage returns has made FastForward a popular on-ramp to workforce readiness for students, especially coming out of the pandemic and into economic recovery.
Another benefit of the WRC program is NOVA’s Guaranteed Interview Program. Through this program, employers conduct initial screening interviews with NOVA students who have successfully completed specific applied degree and non-credit programs certificates. This gives the employer direct access to a talent pipeline at NOVA for current or future openings, and students can get their foot in the door and gain valuable experience developing professional interview skills.
Courses Offered Throughout the Year
NOVA Workforce offers continuing education and professional development training for today’s workforce. Learn new, in-demand skills, or prepare for industry credentials, and advance your career. Programs and courses are offered year-round in a wide range of topics.
To learn more about NOVA Workforce, visit nvcc.edu/workforce.
Dawn Klavon is a regular contributing writer for Prince William Living. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.