The Next Step By Jennifer Jett West Virginia’s indus- tries are evolving, and accompanying this progress is a host of new and unique needs within the state’s business community. With the growth and shifts in dynamics, more jobs are available, raising the question of how the state will supply a large enough work force to get the work done. As the demands of the world market expand and technology continues to change, the creation of specialized jobs is producing an immediate need for specialized training. With all of the recent talk about surges in industry, economic opportunity and the struggle to find qualified workers to fill this growing abundance of jobs, West Virginia Executive turned to the leaders of the state’s higher education sector for insight. Ben Exley, IV has served as executive director of West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities (WVICU) since December 2010. Prior to this position, he served as a WVICU board member from 1999-2008 and held several officer positions, including board chair. He is responsible for all operations of the organization, as well as the Annual Scholarship Campaign, through which he garners support for the 76 west virginia executive The Future of Higher Education Circle of Vision Scholarship Program. He previously served as executive vice president of James Communications, interim executive director for the Ohio Valley Industrial and Business Development Corporation, Mid-Atlantic regional vice president of Cardinal Health and president and CEO of Ohio Valley Clarksburg Inc. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia Wesleyan College and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. Exley has served on the board of trustees for West Virginia Wesleyan College and The Linsly School and on the board of directors for many businesses, including Valley National Gases and the Ohio Valley Business and Industrial Development Corporation. Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (WVHEPC), has more than 25 years of experience in academic research, grant administration and public policy development, and he has held CEO positions in state, federal and private organizations. He was named chancellor in 2012, after serving as the system’s interim chancellor since 2007. Hill has helped design and manage a number of research initiatives with academic institutions, including the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, known as Bucks for Brains, the West Virginia Research Challenge Fund and the West Virginia Eminent Scholars Initiative. He has also appeared before Congress on numerous occasions and provided congressional testimony on science, technology and education policy. Recently, Hill became a member of State Higher Education Executive Officers’ Federal Relations Committee and was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to the Southern Regional Education Board. A native West Virginian, he holds degrees from Marshall University and the University of Louisville in biology and chemistry. James Skidmore, chancellor of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia (CTCSWV), has more than 30 years of experience in higher education and has served in positions at what are now known as West Virginia University Institute of Technology, West Virginia State University and the West Virginia Board of Regents. He has also been involved in the implementation of Senate bills 547, 653, 703 and 448 and House bill 3215, all of which are recent legislation that set a new direction for community and technical college education in the State of West Virginia. Skidmore was instrumental in facilitating the formation of a statewide community and technical college system that resulted in the separation of six community and technical colleges from baccalaureate institutions. In addition to his duties in the central office, he serves on numerous statewide committees and councils dealing with work force development, economic development and other issues relating to community college education. Hill, Exley and Skidmore have offered their insight to help us better understand how higher education institutions and systems operate in West Virginia, as well as the direction in which our state’s industries are moving and what we need to do to be successful when we get there.