Accelerating Virginia’s Talent Pipeline by Bryan Slater, Secretary of Labor
September 13th, 2023

In pursuit of his vision for Virginia to be nationally recognized as the best place to live, work, and raise a family, Governor Glenn Youngkin is taking bold steps to strengthen Virginia’s talent base to meet the growing needs of business. In the first 19 months of his term as Governor, through his leadership, our Administration has championed the creation of a new agency to transform workforce development, eliminated cumbersome qualification and testing requirements for state licensing of 85 different professions, and is investing in new and innovative workforce training programs throughout the Commonwealth.

We have seen the impact of Governor Youngkin’s focus on developing a more competitive workforce to accelerate Virginia’s economy clearly. Most recently, the Commonwealth reported a labor force participation rate of 66.7 percent, the highest since 2012, erasing nearly a decade of labor losses.  From Day One the Governor has made a commitment to getting Virginians off the sidelines and back into the workforce. Today, with nearly 220,000 more people working in Virginia than in January of 2022, we are doing exactly that.

The hallmark accomplishment to date is bi-partisan legislation to create the Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement (DWDA) that will provide more opportunity to more Virginians. This innovative department will create, sustain, and retain a highly skilled workforce as Virginia’s business portfolio continues to expand. The support of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in reaching this goal. However, this achievement is just the beginning of a whole-of-Commonwealth approach to creating a workforce that is ready for the jobs of today – and tomorrow.

In addition to removing barriers to work and optimizing the Commonwealth’s workforce development services through the creation of the DWDA, the Youngkin Administration is also making strong investments in work-based learning initiatives such as apprenticeships, internships, and other on-the-job training.  These programs, such as the Registered Apprenticeships, provide earn-as-you-learn experiences and contribute to the resilient and talented workforce pipeline needed to grow the Virginia economy.

In order for Virginia to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family, we need to make it easier for those moving into the Commonwealth to find a job, put down roots, and stay here. Therefore, we are examining regulated occupations and professions to find solutions to simplify and accelerate credentialing processes and universal license recognition. This year, Governor Youngkin signed legislation allowing for universal license recognition of 85 different professional licenses from other states. Under the new law, licensing boards under the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation will recognize out-of-state licenses for individuals who have held an equivalent license in another state for at least three years, are in good standing and underwent training and examination in their current state. It will make Virginia more competitive with our neighboring states who offer more occupational freedom.

On top of this, Governor Youngkin remains committed to removing barriers that keep people from entering the workforce such as burdensome regulatory challenges through the Office of Regulatory Management, addressing mental health through programs like Right Help Right Now, fighting the scourge of fentanyl, and putting resources toward childcare access.

While we have made great progress, we are keeping our foot on the accelerator to boost our workforce and economy. Our continued partnership with a vibrant Virginia business community will position the Commonwealth to compete to win on a national and global scale.