Our own Jonathan Whitt, Region 2000 Technology Council executive director, was recently featured in Nuclear Power International Magazine – describing the Lynchburg regional area’s long term, broad-based commitment to invest in local STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education programs. Our regional initiatives are strongly positioning and preparing our students for a future in a workforce increasingly dominated by science and technology. All these programs are also priming the tech-focused workforce ‘pipeline’ – greatly benefiting local technology businesses as we raise up a new generation of well-equipped workers, innovators and marketplace leaders.
See below for an excerpt of Jonathan’s article and read the entire text: here.
“Virginia’s Region 2000 encompasses 2,000 square miles in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to a surprising number of high tech businesses, including two global nuclear companies – Areva and The Babcock and Wilcox Co.– employing nearly 4,500 in the area. Representatives from economic development, academia and government have seen the need to build and foster a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) ecosystem here, creating the workforce of the future and pointing students toward STEM careers which will continue to be in high demand in the future.
Virginia’s Region 2000 is endeavoring to prepare our youth and region for a bright future. From our Future Focus Foundation K-12 programs, to the “Youth Zone” at our Workforce Center, to the professional development programs at our Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, to STEM programs provided by our partner businesses and schools, leaders in Region 2000 are striving to create and promote a spectrum of initiatives that nurture a regional culture that builds the workforce of the future, supporting the region’s cluster of high-tech businesses.
For the past ten years, the Region 2000 Technology Council and Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) have joined forces to cultivate a comprehensive workforce development model to meet the current and future needs of area employers in high-growth, high-wage STEM career clusters. This multi-faceted STEM workforce development initiative reaches students starting in elementary school and continues to offer opportunities through post-graduate education. The educational components of the initiative are closely linked and responsive to the needs of the region¹s employers, standing firmly at the intersection of education and economic development.
“Supporting STEM education in our community is a high priority for Areva. By working with our community partners, we are not only planting the seeds for future engineers, we’re helping develop a strong technology skillset in our region,” says Reggie Pugh, Areva vice president, Virginia Affairs.
In 2003, CVCC received a project grant from the National Science Foundation to expand regional K-12 STEM activities. The Region 2000 Technology Council became a partner in the effort in order to institutionalize it and provide sustainability. Since its inception, the partners have been able to merge and grow existing programs and implement new ones under the umbrella project, which came to be known as “Grow Your Own Workforce.” This project has resulted in a unique program to expose students to technical career paths available in the region. The program responds to employer needs in the technical, scientific, and healthcare industries, particularly given the region¹s aging workforce. Notably, according to economist Fletcher Mangum in his May, 2010 review of Region 2000’s economic position, the most significant gains forecasted in employment growth are in STEM industries, and this growth is estimated at 20.9 percent by 2016.”
(Read the whole article at the Power Engineering website)