Public Media Company Launches Free SkillsOnline Training


Norfolk, Virginia-based nonprofit and regional public broadcaster WHRO Public Media has launched an online skill training courses through its new professional development and workforce training portal SkillsOnline. The company is offering more than 3,500 online classes, out of which certain work readiness modules will be available free of charge to students and workers this year.

Diverging into employment preparation, WHRO is working alongside subject matter professionals to create to create the first five of 21 work readiness modules based on the employee career entry and advancement requirements set by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.  These include applied mathematics, reading and locating Information, internet usage and safety, and healthcare training.

The courses will be free and available to students, adults, agencies and businesses in Virginia. They will not possess college credit but some could act as job qualifications in the industry.

Speaking at a meeting hosted by the Peninsula Council for Workforce Development, Virginia Employment Commissioner Terry McAuliffe made the announcement that the classes would be available immediately at the SkillsOnline site. He hailed WHRO’s aim to boost Virginia’s workforce by providing “no-cost resources for educators and local government training providers.”

Bert Schmidt, the CEO and president of WHRO, has announced that the wide variety of courses, ranging from cloud computing basics, risk management planning and grant writing, would cost between $20 to $1,795 and would average about $100. He emphasized that the classes could be employed by individuals or for employee training in businesses, writes Philip Walzer of The Virginian Pilot.

“WHROPublic Media is experienced in creating engaging online learning courses currently used by pre-K to grade 12 teachers and students across Virginia for free, funded by the Virginia Department of Education. We are a non-profit organization owned by the 19 school divisions of southeastern Virginia and use our broadcast and production facilities to create engaging modules which capture and hold the attention of today’s online media savvy students.”

“We want to help match the skills of people who are unemployed or underemployed with the jobs out there. We think we can make a big difference in improving the employment situation in Virginia.”

Funds from the Hampton Roads’ Community Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, through the American Graduate program, have been used to develop the first five modules; which will teach interactive graphics and gaming through mobile-friendly online lessons; writes Tara Bozick of The Daily Press.

The company continues to seek funding from foundations and other private sources to produce the remaining courses and collateral materials.

Other than the Workforce Investment Board, social services agency, K-12 schools, community college and Commonwealth employers, the course content will also be released through WHRO operated eMediaVa(SM) to over 145,000 public, private and home teachers in Virginia.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones has stressed the necessity of talent development for accelerating economic growth in the Commonwealth.

“WHRO’s career readiness modules are an important tool for students of all ages to get access to the skills they need to succeed in careers of the 21st century.”

The broadcasting station is in partnership with four southeastern Virginia community colleges, including Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, Eastern Shore Community College and Rappahannock Community College.

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