FORT LEE, Va. (July 14, 2021) – The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, or WIOA, is a title military members and spouses should remember … or at the very least, jot down.
Why? Because of these three words: free job training.
The word “free” is not used lightly here. There is absolutely no cost for those wanting to attend community colleges and vocational schools to attain job training, skill certifications or both.
Those who are skeptics are probably thinking the catch is coming soon.
Wait for it, wait for it … nothing.
“We provide 100-percent funding,” emphasized Christina Taylor, career center manager for the Crater Region, Virginia Career Works office in Petersburg.
VCW, a state and federally supported workforce development entity, provides a host of “employment as well as educational services for military (members) and their spouses,” Taylor explained.
The career center offers an extensive list of training opportunities presented by community colleges, trade institutions and others across the state. Taylor said there are no barriers – it is an opportunity available to even those stay-at-home military spouses who care for children throughout the day.
“We actually have supportive services money that will take care of and assist with childcare if it is needed to enable someone to take advantage of our employment assistance program,” Taylor noted.
Continuing to describe VCW services from a stay-at-home spouse perspective, Taylor said initial enrollees are interviewed by a career counselor who assesses skills and experience and helps with selecting a career path or training. This step is often eye-opening as many individuals might assume they lack marketable skills. It is a myth that one who raises children has nothing to offer, Taylor emphasized.
“A lot of at-home spouses don’t feel like they have transferrable skills, but they do,” she said. “They have skills related to what they do with their children – multitasking, for one – that is needed and required in the workforce.”
The career counselors work with clients to craft a career plan that may include training or going back school, according to Taylor.
“If training is not their thing, or if they don’t have the time, space or capacity to train, then we will help develop a resume for them,” she added. “We actually do mock interviews and ensure they are put in front of employers to maximize their opportunities to work.”
During her tenure as the career center manager, Taylor said she has seen patterns in regard to career preference. Information technology, for one, seems to be a popular median between occupational interest and lifestyle.
“A lot of our spouses seem to be interested in our IT program,” she said. “They want to get a lot of those credentials and certifications such as Lean Six Sigma.”
Many participants are able to earn the certifications from home, Taylor noted.
To spread the word about the WIOA program, Taylor said she attends the transition briefings that are held monthly at the Soldier Support Center.
Those interested in attending an upcoming session can get details from the Fort Lee Transition Assistance Program at 804-734-6612.
“The transition briefings are a great platform for military members to learn about our programs,” Taylor said.
WIOA program services prioritize military members and their spouses, Taylor further emphasized, and noted that military members do not use their GI Bill to pay for training.
“We will take care of 100-percent of the training cost as well as the cost of any supportive services,” Taylor said.
WIOA also provides services for family members who are at least 16 years old.
For more information, call Taylor at 804-862-6155 ext. 304 or email her at email@example.com. On the internet, visit the Virginia Career Works webpage at virginiacareerworks.com/veterans.