Frank Ruff Jr.: Looking at employment 17 years later

Published 12:45 pm Thursday, June 8, 2023

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Frank RuffSeventeen years ago, Delegates Kathy Byron and Clark Hogan and I, after extensive research, concluded that Virginia’s training and guidance for those seeking employment or training for better employment was a mess. Different agencies had developed multiple training programs with little coordination and mixed results.

We proposed one person who would have direct connection with the Governor. We proposed the bill to take place as then newly elected Governor Kaine was coming into office. The bill passed. However, Governor Kaine appointed an ill-suited political hack, therefore, nothing of value happened. The next three governors of both parties appointed good people, but they did not address the problem of conflicting programs.


We did alert more legislators to the needs of our employers and the mismatch with those who need jobs. Our legislation in 1996 did lead to some changes. The community college system developed better communication with local employers to better focus their training for the skills needed in their service area.

Out of this research, several great programs were developed. With the assistance of the electric cooperatives, Southside Virginia Community College developed a line-workers training program. They certified the 500th line-worker this year.

To better visualize the problem, look at the welding program at the community colleges a decade ago, but holds true for similar professions that need skilled workers. In 2009, if someone lost their job as many businesses were shut down, workers sought new training. Our community colleges would explain that they could train them to be welders starting months later in September and they would complete two years later.

Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is