Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jim Webb and Jon Bowerbank Celebrate Kickoff of PlugGED

There has been a significant amount of discussion recently about the importance of investing in education and how that can help to stimulate our economy. While most of this discussion surrounds supporting our children in grades K-12 and those seeking higher education, earlier this week there was also discussion about another important aspect of education. Leaders gathered in Lebanon, Virginia to celebrate the kick of PlugGED which is a six-month program where students have the opportunity to earn a GED certificate, develop specific skills necessary for jobs in the technology field, have an opportunity to earn Microsoft certifications, and have a guaranteed interview with Northrop Grumman.

The interview with Northrop Grumman is an interesting portion of program because the opportunity for the program’s graduates to work at its facility in Russell County is one way of ensuring that these workers are using their skills to improve the local economy. Jon Bowerbank, who is a member of the Russell County Board of Supervisors and is running for Lt. Governor, appears to understand the opportunity that PlugGED represents. In addition to being at the celebration to show his support, Jon how the following to say about the program and its impact on Southwest Virginia.
"The PlugGED In program is exactly the kind of innovative solution we need to turn our education system around, provide a better future for our children, and make our workforce - and in turn our economy - stronger. It is a great example of the public and private sectors coming together to solve a problem that affects them both, and the solution benefits us all.

As a resident of Southwest Virginia and an owner of a business headquartered here, I know firsthand the employment challenges facing our young adults in this region. People in Southwest Virginia who are searching for a job without a high school degree or a developed skill set face long odds in finding good paying employment. With this new program, not only will these students receive their GED, a must-have for those seeking employment, but they will also have specific skills that make them valuable in the ever expanding tech-sector job market.”
Sen. Jim Webb, who has family roots in Southwest Virginia, also was at the celebration to show his support. At the same time that he recognized the positive role that this program will play in the lives of many working class families in Virginia, he also realizes that the federal government should step up to the plate and do its part to help “non-traditional” students.
“Today’s kick-off showcases the innovative approach that Virginia is already taking to bolster the on-the-job and technical skills of our citizens,” said Webb. “But, we need a dedicated federal commitment to those workers willing to put in the hard work to enhance their skills.

“In the weeks ahead, I plan to introduce legislation in the Senate that will support non-traditional adult students who want to improve their skills, obtain a GED or go back to school to pursue a post-secondary education,” said Webb.
In a time when our country is facing a tough financial crisis, it is even more important for people to have the opportunity to receive an education that prepares them for the 21st Century job market. I am very pleased to see that some of our elected officials understand this concept and as we move forward, I strongly encourage all of our elected officials to take a hint from Sen. Jim Webb and Supervisor Jon Bowerbank and realize that investment in education will stimulate our economy as well as provide it with some long term stability.

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