West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 73

Council on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and president and chief operating officer of Appalachian Power. “Today, the presence of technology in the workplace is pervasive; therefore, the adequate preparation of our labor force requires we develop curricula and programs to support this reality. I believe the council can present a template for raising West Virginia’s awareness of the importance of STEM-related skills in today’s workplace and facilitate the creation of regional partnerships that tap into the growing network of proven STEM-related programs.” West Virginia’s education system, especially community colleges and technical schools, has stepped up to the task of providing business and industry with a solid, skilled work force by adapting a curriculum to meet the needs of businesses investing and growing in the Mountain State. Local school systems have partnered with industry to share with middle school students the earning potential of highlyskilled, hands-on career opportunities. Across the board, West Virginia’s education system is helping companies grow by supporting the state’s future workers. For years, West Virginia has worked hard to make the most of the increased energy production associated with the development of the Marcellus and Utica shales. This new energy source has provided the Mountain State with enormous economic development opportunities. “Our state is on the cusp of a boom in manufacturing, particularly in petrochemicals, thanks to the vast new resources in the Marcellus and Utica shales,” says Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette. “If we are going to fully tap the potential of these assets, we need a work force with first-rate skills and training in science and engineering. Thankfully, Governor Tomblin has made the development of that work force one of his top priorities, and we are quickly moving to provide West Virginians with the education and training they need to meet this demand and secure great jobs.” As the state courts these new development opportunities, community and technical colleges have been on the front lines developing a variety of programs to ensure companies are able to hire qualified West Virginia workers. Since 2007, West Virginia community and technical colleges have implemented 133 new programs specifically tailored toward work force development and G&