Blue Ribbon Commission Examines Workforce Training Issues

Posted: May 16, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

With the third-largest information technology industry in the United States, Virginia must make the most of its colleges and universities to ensure the continued expansion of the technology sector and support economic development in the face of national and international competition, according to the final report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.

In the report, Virginia’s colleges and universities are recognized as playing a critical role in preparing the commonwealth’s workforce. However, greater coordination between workforce preparation and support for noncredit instruction is needed, and much more training could be made broadly available through alternative delivery methods such as distance learning. The commission calls on colleges and universities to ensure that their students graduate with a high level of technological literacy and an ability to think critically, solve problems, and write and speak clearly. The commission also acknowledges the important role research plays in generating additional funding sources, and calls on state leaders to examine ways to meaningfully support research.

The commission produced nine recommendations to address the issues of workforce training, economic development, and research. Following is a representative sample:

  • The secretaries of commerce and trade, education, and technology must work closely to ensure purposeful and focused state participation in meeting the demand for higher education from employees and employers, both present and future.

  • Postsecondary institutions must make preparing new K-12 teachers a priority.

  • The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), in close consultation with the institutions of higher education, the attorney general, and the secretaries of education and technology, should publish revised intellectual property guidelines. The need for a single intellectual property policy for all institutions should be examined.

  • The governor and the General Assembly should fully fund the commonwealth’s share of the Eminent Scholars Program.

The report, available on the SCHEV website, was produced by a committee including President Alan Merten; Sidney Dewberry, a member of George Mason’s Board of Visitors; representatives of many of the commonwealth’s other colleges and universities; members of the General Assembly; and business leaders.

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