PREPARING FOR 5,000 NEW JOBS. On December 13, Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Tim Donovan announced a partnership with the Vermont Department of Labor and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development that will respond to the emerging workforce needs associated with a series of Northeast Kingdom economic development projects.
In late September, Bill Stenger, President of Jay Peak Resort, announced a $500,000,000 economic development plan for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom that is expected to create up to ten thousand jobs in the region. Plans include a 90,000 square foot facility that will house AnCBio, a Korean biotech firm, and Menck Windows, a German window manufacturer, new lodges at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Ski Resorts, a hotel, marina and conference center on the waterfront in Newport, new retail and housing in downtown Newport, and facility and warehouse upgrades to the state airport in Coventry.
These development projects, with a staggered schedule for construction and openings, will create a need for approximately 5,000 construction jobs and another 5,000 permanent positions within the businesses expanding or opening.
After discussions with Bill Stenger, Commerce Deputy Secretary Pat Moulton Powden and Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan, the Vermont State Colleges has agreed to coordinate a response to the workforce needs presented by the expected job growth. The first step is analysis of available job training and education programs and whether they can be focused to meet the needs of the jobs to be created. Chancellor Tim Donovan announced the appointment of two VSC staff members, Penne Ciaraldi of the Community College of Vermont, and Ann Nygard of Lyndon State College, to manage that effort. Ciaraldi is currently CCV’s Executive Director of Workforce Education.
Nygard is Director of Lyndon State College’s Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The next step will be to integrate the available and trained workforce into the job opportunities as they emerge. The Department of Labor will be coordinating the job placement activities, in concert with its many partner organizations. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan announced this week that Cindy Robillard, a long-time department employee who has worked in the St. Johnsbury and Newport offices, will be Labor’s ‘point-person’ on the job placement activities. “The Department of Labor administers a significant amount of federal and state funds for workforce education and training. We will be focusing resources to ensure that these jobs are filled by Vermonters whenever possible,” said Noonan.
“As this project evolves, it will inevitably reveal new needs for education and training in the Kingdom, and we need to be responsive without being redundant. By coordinating the effort, relying on programs and resources that compose the whole spectrum including all five colleges in the system, area technical centers, secondary schools, training programs, private colleges and the University, we can close any skills gap that emerges,” said Chancellor Donovan. “The VSC are excited to have been asked to play that role.”
The NEK project continues to be an Agency of Commerce and Community Development priority, according to Deputy Secretary Moulton Powden. “This is an exciting time for the NEK. A core component of any economic development strategy is ensuring the availability of a skilled workforce. Unfilled jobs don’t put food on anyone’s table. We are focused on short and long term workforce preparation. We are delighted the VSC is taking the lead role working with the variety of excellent education and training resources available in the Kingdom and statewide.”
Lyndon State College President Joe Bertolino notes, “I am pleased to share the announcement of this exciting new partnership between the VSC, the Vermont Department of Labor, and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Lyndon’s Ann Nygard, Director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, will be joining CCV’s Penne Ciaraldi, Executive Director of Workforce Education, to lead and coordinate the workforce education response to the more than 5,000 jobs that will be created in the NEK over the next five years.”
“This is an exciting opportunity for Lyndon State College to play an active role in the VSC-led effort. Through this effort, we will have an opportunity to work more closely with our regional partners and our sister institutions within the Vermont State Colleges.”