Saturday, June 15, 2024

VPCC Business Seminar Highlights Partnerships

Rep. Bobby Scott, Del. Rob Wittman and Towuanna Porter Brannon. (Photo: VPCC)

HAMPTON — More than 100 people attended a seminar at Virginia Peninsula Community College on Friday, Dec. 15, that aimed to address workforce shortages and talent gaps present on the peninsula and throughout the Commonwealth.

Noting its role as one of the leaders in the community, Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) said it aims to be part of the solution.

Attendees of the seminar, called “United for Impact: Bridging Higher Education, Communities and Businesses,” represented local businesses, school systems and nonprofits.

“As with most challenges, we have this incredible opportunity,” VPCC President Towuanna Porter Brannon told those assembled at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center on the College’s Hampton Campus. “No one of us is as powerful as our collective together. I do believe that we can create solutions that are feasible, that are scalable, and that are sustainable to create workforce talent for today and also to build infrastructure that allow our community to thrive and to build talent pipelines for the very, very near future.”

The event began with a networking opportunity, followed by a discussion led by Congressman Bobby Scott and Virginia Del. Rob Wittman.

Topics included increasing internships, on-the-job training opportunities, and spreading the word about community colleges and workforce training programs and certificates, according to VPCC. The lawmakers closed with a question-and-answer session involving the audience.

“The best value in education is community college,” Scott said.

There was a second panel discussion with Tom Cosgrove (manager for external affairs for Newport News Shipbuilding), Jesse Goodrich (senior VP of human resources at Riverside Health System), and Matt Kellam (manager of workforce development and planning for Dominion Energy). It was facilitated by Bob McKenna, the president and CEO of Virginia Peninsula Chamber. The group discussed hiring, retention, and community partnerships.

“We’re all in the partnership game,” said Todd Estes, VP of Workforce Development and Innovation at VPCC. “Everybody in this room is either a current partner or is partnering with someone else in the room, and so partnership is the name of the game. We know that.”

However, Estes stressed its arduous work, “It’s constant nourishment, constant attention, constant adjustment. It takes constant work to maintain and sustain partnerships. These conversations today help support those existing partnerships and grow those.”

The day concluded with a tour of three campus buildings showcasing the college’s welding, machining, marine electric, cybersecurity and nursing labs, and its drones.

Kerry Ragno, the College’s VP of Academic Affairs said, “What we heard today was
so exciting and so enlightening that I think that we’re going to have not only our work cut out for us but a lot of really good choices of places to start that will really benefit the workforce pipeline and our students here at VPCC.”

To learn more about the college, visit

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