William Gary

Vice President, Workforce Development
Northern Virginia Community College

I think most of us hear about workforce development and the next [phrase] you hear is “community colleges.” So throughout the country, community colleges are addressing what I call boots-on-the-ground challenges and issues that manufacturers in different industry sectors are experiencing. We’re developing in partnership not only with other community colleges, but with industries themselves, curriculum, just-in-time responses to their workforce challenges and issues.

I think it’s that model coupled with an understanding that community colleges cannot necessarily do this alone. We have to do it in partnership with those that we’re serving. We have to do it in partnership with the local workforce investment boards, the chambers of commerce, our economic-development authorities. An integration of all of those sources so that, in the long run, the pathway that we’re trying to establish not only can be sustainable for those industries but scalable and leveraged.

We’ve got to create why this is an economically viable opportunity for us, not to even think about what I call the senior tsunami — the baby boomers — who are projected to leave this particular industry. How are they going to be replaced? Here in Northern Virginia, in the next 10 years, we’re going to have over 600,000 jobs. Where are we going to replace those workers? Where are we going to get those pipelines? That’s throughout the country. Those are some of the challenges and issues that we have to confront.