RICHMOND, Va. – State Del. Kirk Cox, who represents the 66th Colonial Heights district, was recognized Thursday for his vision and efforts to bring apprentice academies to Southern Virginia.
Cox received recognition from the boards of directors of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS) and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM). They are a partnership between businesses and Virginia universities, who work to solve advanced manufacturing and logistic challenges.
Cox last year successfully secured a $25 million budget amendment that committed initial funds for an Apprentice Academy in Prince George County. The Academy is designed to help Virginians obtain the skills advanced manufacturers and their logistics systems need to stay competitive in the global marketplace.
“To fully capitalize on Virginia’s geographic, infrastructure and pro-business climate, advanced manufacturers require workers with advanced training,” said Delegate Cox. “Industry-led training in manufacturing processes, data analytics, logistics, biosciences and information technology will ensure access to talent for businesses and high-paying jobs for Virginians.”
“As a high school teacher for years, I saw so many students who had great skill sets -- as far as advanced manufacturing, etc. – and this will give them the training they need to be specially trained in, whether it be welding or any types of technologies in advanced manufacturing, we have nothing like that in Virginia,” Cox said.
“I’m extremely excited about the training they will get and what that will mean to our economy,” Cox said. “It’s a model that has been used a lot in Europe, etc. and I think as far as apprenticeships go we are really far behind in Virginia.”
“One of the biggest things is training for our young folks coming out high school,” Cox added.
“We have Rolls Royce, CCAM and CCALS here so this has become a center of innovation,” Cox said. “If you just look at Prince George and the local area, we’ve got a training workforce that can fill some of those jobs not only for Rolls Royce but a lot of the other partners who are in CCAM and CCALS.”
“A confident, capable workforce will accelerate the region’s emergence as an advanced manufacturing and logistics leader and attract more jobs and more investment in the years to come,” said Joseph Moody, president and executive director of CCAM.
Another key to the Commonwealth’s continued success in advanced manufacturing and logistics is the Port of Virginia.
Under an agreement brokered by Cox, a CCALS researcher will be located at the Port this fall and will focus initially on vessel berthing and scheduling processes. Additional projects with the Port are expected.
A significant increase in traffic and volume is expected at the port, which John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director for the Virginia Port Authority, said is one of the few East Coast ports ready today to handle larger vessels using the newly expanded Panama Canal.
“In order to meet these demands now and in the future, we have to pursue every avenue to operate our terminals as efficiently, effectively, and as safely as possible,” Reinhart said.