RICHMOND – Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s legislation to consolidate and transform Virginia’s fragmented workforce development system, supported by a broad coalition of businesses, trade and industry groups, labor unions and workforce leaders, passed the General Assembly last week with nearly unanimous, bipartisan support. The legislation combines a dozen workforce development programs and data systems under a single agency, the Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement (DWDA) and authorizes that agency to direct all workforce programs across state government to optimize workforce readiness for Virginia’s current and future jobs.
“In order to continue to grow and strengthen Virginia’s economy, we need to innovate how we train Virginia’s workforce to drive opportunity and stimulate new business opportunities,” Youngkin said. “The Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement will fundamentally accelerate and transform Virginia’s workforce through a bold approach that combines workforce development programs. This bipartisan effort will not only help us compete to win economically with our surrounding states, but also address Virginia’s out migration.”
“For over 30 years, legislators and governors of both parties have contemplated and attempted to consolidate the Commonwealth’s fragmented workforce development system. We were able to assemble a bipartisan group of legislators and stakeholders this year to get it done,” said Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater. “The new workforce-focused agency will allow us to provide better services and training to Virginians, measure and optimize our programs, create more high-paying jobs for Virginia workers, enable the Commonwealth to better compete with other states, and meet the employment needs of businesses. This will accelerate Virginia’s economic growth to make Virginia the place people want to relocate to live, work, and raise a family.”
Del. Kathy Byron patroned House Bill 2195 and Senators Frank Ruff and George Barker sponsored Senate Bill 1470.
“A skilled and trained workforce is essential to building a strong and growing economy,” said Byron. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen Virginia’s ability to compete for the businesses that will create jobs, grow our economy, and ensure prosperity.”
“Many areas of Virginia, particularly rural Virginia, need additional tools to compete in the 21st Century economy. This workforce development transformation will set Virginian’s up with the skills and training they need to fill high-demand, good-paying jobs,” said Sen. Frank Ruff.
“Workforce development is a bipartisan issue and needs bipartisan solution. This legislation is a perfect example of what happens when people come together and work toward a solution that that benefits all Virginians,” said Sen. George Barker. “Serving on the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, I know this legislation will prepare Virginia, particularly Northern Virginia, to meet the ever-changing needs of a dynamic economy.”
The transformation of Virginia’s workforce development system will allow the commonwealth to:
- Deliver programs more efficiently and increase workforce participation, fostering greater business investment, and, ultimately, a stronger economy for all Virginians;
- Provide data-driven insights that will improve the delivery of skill-building and workforce preparedness services through leveraging innovative data analysis;
- Create a comprehensive strategy, balanced with regional flexibility, ensuring programs and services remain consistent with the needs of regions across Virginia;
- Develop programs that better align with the needs of businesses and scale programs that work; and
- Create a set of measures and metrics focused on jobs filled and people retained in the workforce, with greater accountability of the results.
On final passage, HB 2195 passed the House on a 96-1 vote and SB 1470 passed the Senate 40-0.