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It was not just business as usual on August 20th at Valley College – Beckley Campus. HVAC students were hard at work in the lab and med students were learning their terminology and anatomy, but the campus also spent the morning hosting some very special guests on this Thursday. U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins and some special community guests met at Valley College to talk about employment and training issues and witness how Valley College is helping the community meet these challenges by training students in not only hands- on skills in high demand fields, but also soft skills that make the students marketable and help them not only gain a job, but start a career and further that career by being the type of employee every employer wants.

Congressman Jenkins was joined by the CEO of Appalachian Regional Hospital, Rocco Massey and his Director of Public Relations, Ted Wygal. CEO David Darden of Raleigh General Hospital was in attendance to represent the medical community as well. Tom Cushman, part-owner of Phillips Machinery and Bruce Dickerson, his CEO, attended to talk about retraining and hiring challenges with the downturn in the coal industry. Joe Brouse, Director of Business Retention and Expansion for the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority was in attendance as well and spoke of the need for training and employment in the area to promote the quality of life in the local area and help grow southern WV as a tourism destination.

Beth Gardner, Vice President of the southern region of Valley College provided packets of information about Valley College and spoke of her pride in their excellent placement and retention numbers. She ensured the group that Valley College understood that as employers they need employees with the hard skills AND the soft skills to provide good customer service and work ethic, and that all of Valley’s programs include a Career Development or Professionalism course as well as computer courses to make sure students were computer literate.

Congressman Jenkins continued this theme of professionalism and work ethic when he addressed a student group in a campus meeting area. He asked the students to look around at the impressive group of guests that Valley College had brought to their student meeting room today. He told them this was their chance to hear firsthand from CEO’s of local companies about what they are looking for as they hire new employees. “These CEO’s have jobs they need filled right now and they are telling you exactly what they are looking for. You are doing the right thing by being here in that seat this morning and getting an education and training to fulfill these needs. However, you have to be the employee that they want to hire. You have to show up ready to work and be 100%. That along with the training you are getting here today will lead to your success,” he told the group of Medical Clinical Assistant and Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning students.

Gardner said she felt the meeting was a great opportunity for the community leaders to see Valley College’s renovated campus and HVAC labs and witness their students in action. She felt Congressman Jenkins’ message reinforced to the students what they had been hearing in class about work ethic and professionalism.

For the link to the video: 10153217095258722