JOB CREATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Ascent Virginia’s economic framework seeks to create a straight line from innovation to jobs. We expect jobs to be created across the entire supply chain. This will happen as opportunities expand for skilled scientists and engineers designing the next generation of technologies in such areas as sensors, IT, advanced computing, artificial intelligence/machine learning, batteries, fuel cells, and next-generation renewable energy hardware and software. Startups, anchor companies and incubators in proximity to universities and innovation clusters will nurture these research and development jobs.
Workforce development and job retraining will create a skilled workforce in surrounding communities, one that is ready to manufacture clean technology devices in Virginia.
Of course, manufactured products need to be warehoused in distribution centers, shipped via ports, airports and highways, and installed in homes and commercial and industrial facilities in Virginia and beyond. We therefore anticipate job creation across the entire supply chain.
Jobs Across Sectors
Ascent Virginia will help foster a cleantech economy that overlaps across sectors. While the vast majority of initial job creation will be centered on the new energy sector which will build the world’s cleantech hardware, the effects of this sector will be seen elsewhere including construction, agriculture, transportation and infrastructure. The overlaps might look something like this:
Jobs Across Sectors Ascent Virginia will help foster a cleantech economy that overlaps across sectors. Whereas, the vast majority of initial job creation will be centered on the new energy sector- building the world’s cleantech hardware- the effects of this economy will undoubtedly translate to additional sectors including construction, agriculture, transportation and infrastructure, among others. We anticipate clear job opportunity overlaps.
The Battery and Fuel Cell job category includes both the New Energy and Construction sectors. For example, skilled installation technicians will install locally manufactured batteries and devices as part of the green building/home efficiency construction business. The Alternate Fuels category shows how tobacco farmers in southern Virginia might grow nicotine-free, energy-rich tobacco crops to generate new types of biofuels touching both the New Energy and Agriculture sectors. Thus, the Ascent Virginia initiative will benefit a whole range of industries across the commonwealth.
Workforce Development and Market Demand
Changing consumer demand, global market realities and automation will undoubtedly have consequences for Virginia’s future workforce. Creating a path that adapts to changing market conditions will be critical to ensure Virginia’s prosperity.
Ascent Virginia will help facilitate workforce development and dual apprenticeship strategies that are being implemented in other states to reduce the skills gap and connect workers to advanced manufacturing jobs. We will also explore the development of manufacturing worker cooperatives by learning from successful agricultural, electric power and green economy cooperative models in the United States and building on manufacturing cooperative successes in Europe and elsewhere.
Ascent Virginia can thus provide the leadership and coordination needed to attract investment, recruit businesses and prepare the workforce Virginia needs for a better future. We already have a strong foundation to build on. We now need to build on that foundation with a coordinated strategy that brings all of Virginia together to create an economy that will be a center for innovation and manufacturing in the emerging clean technology economy.