During my time as Senate President and now, as your Governor, I have made it a priority to improve our state’s business climate and to strengthen and grow West Virginia’s workforce to meet the long-term needs of business and industry operating here. While building this strong, diverse workforce is dependent on the needs of new employers, it also involves harnessing the talents of West Virginia workers and supplying a skilled, well-trained workforce.
Current projections show 60 percent of new jobs in the energy, advanced manufacturing and information technology industry sectors will require at least a two-year degree, while 74 percent of those jobs will require a form of post-secondary education.
The West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) is working to provide the education and training programs necessary to supply highly skilled workers for these in-demand jobs. However, the road to graduation is not always an easy path.
In fact, 64 percent of West Virginia community and technical college students need developmental courses in English or math. For years, developmental education was considered the quicksand of higher education – students got in and never got out. Even more unsettling, only nine percent of those students completed their certificate or degree in four years.
In 2011, community colleges across the Mountain State came together to address these increasingly important issues and identified curriculum, policy, assessment and placement reforms. The taskforce received a critical boost when West Virginia received a $1 million grant from Complete College America (CCA). This funding was vital to bringing these reforms to multiple campuses while helping spread the new developmental education model – co-requisite courses – across two-year institutions.
Co-requisite courses, as designed by the taskforce, are college-level English and math courses that provide additional support for struggling students. West Virginia is one of the few states to adopt this new developmental education model, and the results have made a significant impact in the lives of students across the Mountain State.
Under the traditional model, only 14 percent of students in developmental math courses passed a college-level math course within two years. Under the co-requisite model, 62 percent of students in need of remediation are passing college-level math in just one semester.
I’m proud West Virginia is at the leading edge of this important developmental education reform effort. By giving our state’s struggling students the resources and individualized attention they need to be successful, we are continuing to strengthen our highly-trained workforce to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.
• Meanwhile, West Virginia employers will see a projected $43 million reduction in workers’ compensation premiums in the coming year, and have seen a savings of more than $323 million since the program was privatized in 2006.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently filed a proposed reduction in workers’ compensation loss cost rates with the Offices of the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner – the 11th reduction in 11 years.
“For years, we have worked hard to create a business climate in West Virginia that encourages companies to innovate and expand,” Gov. Tomblin said. “This rate reduction shows our prudent and fiscally responsible policies are helping businesses operating here, and they are benefiting from both lower taxes and lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums. This rate reduction reaffirms the steps we are taking to move in the right direction for continued job growth.”
NCCI, the state’s rating and statistical agent, has proposed an overall decrease of 12.1 percent with the Offices of the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner. The loss cost rate is effective November 1, 2015.
This is the 11th consecutive reduction since privatization and accounts for a cumulative decrease of 63.7 percent from pre-reform levels. Additionally, a proposed 15.3 percent rate decrease for the assigned risk market has also been filed by NCCI.
“West Virginia continues to make great progress in our workers’ compensation market,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael D. Riley. “This consistent vote of confidence by the NCCI should be very encouraging to our businesses as well as their employees.”
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is the 35th and current Governor of West Virginia. He can be reached at 304-558-2000 or 1-888-438-2731. Follow on Twitter @GovTomblin.