Vision for Business Engagement and Workforce-Driven Model
The Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) is a key resource for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and supports DARS with comprehensive medical and vocational rehabilitation services designed to help individuals with disabilities obtain employment through assessment, transition, vocational training or comprehensive medical therapies. The Center's mission, vision, values as well as its assignment in the Federal and State Vocational Rehabilitation program are well documented in the WWRC Administrative Governance Manual (AGM).
WWRC has taken a proactive and strategic approach in response to the emergence of governmental guidance at the federal and state level as well as consistent direction relative to workforce development outlined in law, policy, and executive order as well as through consultation with leading industry associations and employers. A key underpinning for WWRC's approach to Workforce Driven Training and Business Engagement is documented in the Business Roundtable Report on Employer Engagement in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) which provides and exceptional resource in defining the context for jobs driven training in the current environment for workforce development.
Since 2012, WWRC has intentionally engaged in tactical Blueprint initiatives to deliver quality workforce-driven training programs through its Vocational Training Department. Curriculum is shaped, molded, and continuously evaluated by the forces within Virginia's labor market and through continuous employer and business engagement, consultation and technical assistance. Each training program is expected to maintain an articulated statement, annually reviewed and updated as relevant through its assigned Business/Industry Advisory Committee, that clarifies its workforce-driven elements, to include at minimum:
WWRC's vision for business engagement and use of a workforce-driven model necessitates and capitalizes on a close working partnership with DARS through its Business Development Unit and in direct coordination with the DARS Division of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) Vocational Evaluators, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Placement Counselors, and District Managers. The DARS Business Development Unit engages business and industry to meet their hiring needs and to help qualified Agency job candidates with disabilities seek employment. WWRC utilizes the DARS (DRS/WWRC) Business Development Team as its COE-defined Institutional Advisory Committee and leverages opportunities identified through partnerships with statewide Business Development Managers to facilitate targeted tours of WWRC and industry sites. These tours serve as an effective outreach strategy that opens dialogue regarding workforce-driven efforts, the identification of employer needs, curriculum requirements to develop job seeker skills needed to meet those needs, and potential internship and job openings. WWRC also conducts routine marketing and outreach to DRS as its primary referral source to provide relevant information about the vocational training programs offered, to recruit qualified candidates, and to effectively facilitate a smooth transition from WWRC back to the community and placement opportunities.
This close working partnership with WWRC's parent Agency and primary referral source facilitates linkages between available statewide jobs, projected fill dates as compared to anticipated graduation dates, and job locations as compared to graduate preferred place of residence. Companies and corporate networks with multiple locations are highly desirable as they optimize placement opportunities for training graduates. Graduates with flexible travel and/or relocation plans have an obvious advantage. The earlier these issues are identified within the VR process, the more effective the realized employment outcomes.
WWRC's vision for business engagement and use of a workforce-driven model also leverages the resources of the WWRC Foundation. The WWRC Foundation Executive Director serves as an ad hoc member of WWRC's Institutional Advisory Committee to: evolve business relationships through extensive connections of its Board members; provide resources for tours and outreach efforts on behalf of WWRC; and, sponsor marketing efforts such as the WWRC podcast through the VR Workforce Studio that capture VR success stories and employer connections. Likewise, the WWRC Director attends WWRC Foundation meetings to provide updates on WWRC services and programs, share success stories, and identify opportunities for Foundation support.
See also related WWRC Business Engagement - Vision in Action Sharepoint site.