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EARLY YEARS: More Virginia students opting to take community college route, preparing for high-demand jobs

According to Virginia’s Community Colleges, enrollment is up 9% in the G3 tuition assistance program
More students are taking advantage of fast-track programs for in-demand fields like health care and information technology
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 6:02 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - “There are a lot of big trends, people talking about the Big Resignation going on. There are a lot of businesses out there talking about, I can’t find employees; I need to do what we need to do,” says Jeff Kraus, Vice Chancellor for Public Relations for Virginia’s Community Colleges.

A call for employees, and a great opportunity for students to land high-demand jobs.

With programs like G3 and Fast Forward in Virginia’s community colleges, preparing for the future is becoming less time-consuming, and less expensive.

“What we do is help people shorten the amount of time that they have to go to school to get certified and credentialed and skilled for these great opportunities in really high-demand careers,” says Kraus.

G3 is a tuition assistance program for low and middle income Virginians focusing on high demand careers like healthcare, information technology, public safety, early childhood education and skilled trades.

FastForward prepares students for industry credentials in similar fields.

Program costs vary, but the average out-of-pocket cost of a FastForward training course is less than $700.

According to Virginia’s Community Colleges, from fall 2020 to fall 2021, the number of community college students in G3-eligible programs increased by 9%. The total financial aid awarded to students in those programs increased by 20%.

The bottom line: four-year universities are not the only option for students to find success.

“And it’s not the only pathway to a great career and a great high demand field with the type of paycheck that can really support a family, and that’s really what these programs offer,” says Kraus.

He adds, “And we desperately need Virginians to get as many skills and credentials as they can and get into these types of opportunities. We need the help.”

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