Letters to the Editor March 1, 2022: Vocational and technological training | Letters

One of the most overwhelming challenges in access to education is the intersection of privilege and disposable income.

Access to education has become a privilege, reserved for those who know the ins and outs of the system. It is a privilege for those who understand the complex financial aid paperwork. It’s a privilege to be able to pay expensive tuition or incur five-figure debt.

A bridge to this crossroads is career and technical education, a strength of Virginia’s community colleges. These colleges have grown through financial aid such as G3 and FastForward. According to February data from Virginia community colleges, while overall community college enrollment was down, enrollment in G3-eligible programs increased 9% from a year earlier. Additionally, enrollment in FastForward programs increased by 40%. These programs focus on Virginia’s most in-demand industries, such as skilled trades, healthcare, and information technology.

We are successful in attracting students to these fields through voluntary outreach and financial support. And while the Federal Jobs Act is set to expand Pell grants for short-term stackable workforce programs, I hope Virginians and our General Assembly see that community colleges are doing their work, creating pathways to careers with decent wages.

Chancellor of Virginia Community Colleges

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