Congressman Robert Wittman, U.S. Representative for Virginia's First Congressional District hosted a student Town Hall Meeting to discuss education and workforce issues on Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.
Wittman spoke to NOVA students and the public about developing effective solutions to create a more thriving workforce in the future. He emphasized STEM related careers will have the greatest growth potential of employment in the United States.
“Today, if an individual is working in a career and technical education field that involves science, technology, engineering and/or math, their earning potential is greater than many of the college degrees obtained through four-year universities,” Wittman said. “Our effort is to make sure that we do more in the career and technical education area, and that we place as much emphasis as we do in degrees in obtaining certifications and credentials. The workforce is changing, and we have to change along with it.”
As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Wittman believes advanced manufacturing and autonomous systems, such as drones and driverless vehicles, is the next realm of job growth for the state of Virginia to lead in creating a marketable workforce. According to Wittman, 46 percent of individuals with a college degree are not working in their field of study. As a former instructor of the Adult Education program at Rappahannock Community College, the congressman said he is an avid supporter of community colleges and discussed the need to make the cost of tuition more affordable for students pursing a degree.
“I think Northern Virginia Community College is a great example of how we manage the cost of education,” said Wittman. “The cost here per credit hour is absolutely the best deal anywhere I would say in the world. This is the place where a student can receive maximum value. For us to have the workforce of the future, students must take what they learn in the classroom and directly apply it outside the doors of this great institution and others like it.”
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.