Roanoke employment and career training, ticket to a better future

  by: Dr. Hayward,

VP of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning at Virginia Western Community College

The past two years have been challenging, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. As the incidents of COVID lessen and COVID restrictions ease, employers are hiring in the Roanoke Valley. Schools and many small businesses were negatively affected, but consumer demand for goods and services continues, and Roanoke’s employers need help to meet the demand.

  From healthcare to manufacturing, Roanoke Valley employers need individuals who want to work and develop an excellent career. Unfortunately, many who want to work in these in-demand positions do not have the skills required by employers. It is one thing to know your community has gainful employment opportunities and another thing to be prepared to compete for those job vacancies. However, there are many success stories in Roanoke and if you are seeking new or better employment opportunities, you may be closer to success than you know!

  For example, Sheridan Saunders played volleyball and lacrosse at William Fleming High School and witnessed many sports injuries. Her experiences led to an interest in orthopedics. She applied to several colleges during her senior year, both in and out of state. She decided to study at Virginia Western Community College and discovered the college offered wonderful learning opportunities in health sciences, including radiography. Financial aid is also available, and Sheridan benefitted from Virginia Western’s Community College Access Program (CCAP), which covered all her tuition expenses. Sheridan indicated that attending Virginia Western was the right decision to start her path toward an excellent career (

  In addition to success stories like Sheridan’s, many adults choose to take classes at Virginia Western, but not necessarily to earn a college degree. Flexible training options help adult learners acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to enter a new career field or advance in their current field. The college offers career training courses and programs that lead to new skills, industry-recognized credentials, and job readiness, in just a few short months. For example, career training is available in Clinical Medical Assisting, Precision Machining, CDL-A (truck driving), Welding, and other in-demand fields. Virginia’s community colleges–like Virginia Western–offer affordable FastForward courses, focused on in-demand job skills and career training that are quick compared to a typical college course or program of study.

  The line of employers who want to meet Virginia Western’s FastForward graduates is significant. FastForward registration is easy and requires no long-term commitment to attend college. With underlying state aid, FastForward course tuition for eligible residents who complete their courses is one-third of the published list price ( For example, the combined tuition for Machining Fundamentals I and II courses is $1,800, but for eligible residents, the combined cost is $600.00. And while funds are available, new G3 tuition assistance can help pay any remaining tuition for FastForward courses in G3-featured career pathways (

  FastForward students can also benefit from the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready). VA Ready is a business-led partnership between employers and educators focused on rapidly re-skilling Virginians for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. VA Ready connects students who complete FastForward courses with employers hiring in their field of interest. Further, VA Ready Scholars are rewarded with a $1,000 Credential Achievement Award after completing their first eligible FastForward course and credential ( There are no restrictions on the use of these funds, which could help offset the non-tuition costs associated with taking a course.

  Free college is not universal in Virginia, but FastForward, G3, and VA Ready can combine in many cases to make fast and focused career training very affordable. If you or someone you know might benefit from FastForward career training at Virginia Western Community College Roanoke’s community college please call (540) 857-6076 option three, or email today. The Virginia Western team is willing and ready to answer your questions and help you progress along a rewarding career pathway.