By Madeline Merrill
Virginia is undoubtedly a state steeped in history and tradition. In Charlottesville, our nation’s roots are ever-present, where students casually stroll past Jefferson’s Rotunda during class changes and drive up to Monticello at practically no inconvenience. With Richmond, Williamsburg, Alexandria, and everywhere within the Commonwealth’s borders, Virginians live in one of the most culturally rich states in the country.
But even though Virginia’s statewide culture is one with a palpable sense of tradition, it does not imply demographic stagnation. Jerry Stewart, the workforce development coordinator for the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, writes, “Virginia faces a looming skills gap for the largest collection of occupations in the state: middle-skill jobs. These occupations do not require a four-year degree, but some training and education beyond high school is usually recommended. According to the National Skills Coalition, nearly half of all jobs in Virginia are middle-skill and will account for 46 percent of all job openings in the state between 2010 and 2020. The gap? Only 40 percent of the state's workers have training required for middle-skill jobs.”