Building Stronger Businesses and Careers: Exploring Workforce Development in West Virginia

In this episode I have a conversation with Nick Nunnery, the Apprenticeship Program Coordinator for the Economic Development Office in West Virginia. We discussed a range of topics related to business, workforce development, and apprenticeship programs.

Nick shared his role in securing grants for training opportunities for businesses, which ultimately lead to enhanced skills, certifications, and even pay raises for employees. He emphasized the importance of constantly upgrading skills to increase their value in the job market. We talked about the labor market in West Virginia, with its low unemployment rate of 3.3% but a concerning labor participation rate of 54.7%. Nick and his team are focused on increasing the labor participation rate and ensuring more individuals have access to full-time employment and livable wages.

Contrary to common misconceptions, Nick mentioned that the younger generation is actively engaged in the workforce. Youth entrepreneurship initiatives and apprenticeships have gained momentum, providing young individuals with opportunities to gain valuable work experience and credentials. We discussed the impact of the gig economy, where platforms like Uber, Lyft, and GrubHub offer flexible work arrangements. This shift towards self-employment and being their own boss aligns with the American dream of setting one’s own hours and building independent businesses.

Nick highlighted the Economic Development Office’s commitment to working with both large and small businesses. While large corporations play a vital role in the state’s economy, the team also supports small businesses, considering them the backbone of the economy. They aim to ensure that small businesses, with as few as 2 to 5 employees, have access to incentives and resources to thrive in the market.

Apprenticeships emerged as a crucial aspect of workforce development. Nick explained how they assist businesses in creating apprenticeship programs, offering guidance, and connecting them with necessary training resources. Grants and training reimbursements, such as the Governor’s guaranteed workforce program, are available to support these initiatives. Apprentices have the opportunity to earn credentials, certifications, and even degrees while receiving a livable wage.

To wrap up our conversation, Nick shared his contact information and encouraged viewers to reach out for more information about apprenticeships and available grants. You can reach him directly at nicholas.w.nunnery@wv.gov

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