December 3, 2023


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First VA Ready Scholars Achieve Rapid Reskilling, Credentials and Jobs

First VA Ready Scholars Achieve Rapid Reskilling, Credentials and Jobs

PR Newswire

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 23, 2020

More than 260 Scholars enrolled in two months, with 20 already earning a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready), a public-private partnership dedicated to rapidly retraining unemployed Virginians and helping them secure in-demand positions, today celebrates the credential completion of its first-ever cohort of 20 VA Ready Scholars, 17 of whom already have jobs.

“We are proud of the first group to earn their credentials,” said Caren Merrick, CEO of VA Ready. “They now have the sought-after skills needed to fill positions in our local workforce that sat vacant for far too long, and we look forward to the many more who will follow in their footsteps.”

Among the inaugural group of credential recipients is Tracey Delagarza, who accepted as position as a welder at Newport News Shipbuilding.

“VA Ready gave me hope and a much-needed opportunity to learn a new skill that I know will serve me in my future career endeavors,” said Tracey Delagarza. “The program has had a lasting impact on my career prospects, and I know this is only the beginning.”

“FastForward training programs produce highly skilled, credentialed individuals who are knowledgeable, motivated and ready to hit the ground running,” said Susan Jacobs, vice president of human resources and administration for Newport News Shipbuilding. “For us, VA Ready furthers our commitment to developing a skilled and diverse workforce to meet the challenges of shipbuilding and manufacturing. We are proud to support VA Ready and thrilled to be able to extend job offers to 17 of these individuals, who have made the best of a bad situation and found a way to move forward with their careers.”

VA Ready offers incentives to individuals to take community college training programs designed to prepare Virginians for careers in technology, healthcare, and other skilled trades. The VCCS FastForward program, through which the courses are offered, serves people across Virginia at all 23 of its community colleges. Many programs can be completed in just 6-12 weeks.

“Our FastForward training programs are the fastest and most cost-effective paths for people seeking to work in high-demand careers that offer family-sustaining wages,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Our collaboration with VA Ready offers yet another financial benefit for those seeking their next opportunity, especially those who found themselves unexpectedly unemployed because of the pandemic.”

The first credential recipients of the VA Ready program took classes at VCCS’ Danville Community College, Southside Virginia Community College and Tidewater Community College.

VA Ready Scholars have an extra incentive to finish their FastForward program and receive their credential: Once they do, they receive a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award and are offered interview opportunities with VA Ready business partners.

Virginians interested in learning more about VA Ready can attend a free information session co-hosted by Hampton Roads Career Works. This online event will take place on September 29th at 2pm ET. For more information visit:

About the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready)

VA Ready is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization launched in June 2020 to retrain Virginians impacted by the economic hardships created by COVID-19. VA Ready’s mission is to help thousands of unemployed Virginians access the short-term training needed to get back to work in today’s most in-demand jobs. With its Public-Private-Partnership design, VA Ready brings together the FastForward career training program offered by the Virginia Community College System’s (VCCS) 23 colleges and more than 20 business partners who employ millions of Virginians. VA Ready Scholars have access to 30 healthcare, technology and other skilled training programs; learn the skills needed to secure one of today’s most in-demand positions; receive $1,000 upon credential completion; and are connected to VA Ready’s business partners for interview opportunities. Learn more at:

About FastForward

FastForward is Virginia’s premiere short-term training program for high-demand careers. The program has helped individuals earn more than 24,000 credentials since it began in 2016 – 98% of those credentials have been earned in Virginia’s top 12 career fields, as defined by employer demand. Virginia’s 23 community colleges offer more than 220 FastForward training programs in Logistics & Transportation; Healthcare; Welding & Manufacturing; Skilled Trades; Information Technology; Business & Customer Service; and Education.  More than 90% of FastForward students complete their program, which usually takes only 6-12 weeks. Graduates typically experience wage increases of 25-50% and gain important benefits like healthcare and paid time off. To learn more visit:


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SOURCE The Virginia Ready Initiative

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