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Helping “forgotten population” gain skills and jobs

Tidewater Community College has received a grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services to support the college’s continuing efforts to help those with multiple barriers to employment.

The grant allows the college to continue work-related services to recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Services include

  • workforce readiness training;
  • counseling;
  • internships;
  • job placement;
  • and tuition assistance.

The $321,948 grant is for a one-year period with 2 one-year optional renewal periods.

TCC’s Job Skills Training Program (JSTP) was one of 30 grant recipients.

“We serve an entire population that has largely been forgotten,” said Leslie Boughton, JSTP coordinator. “For many of our participants, this program is the first thing they have ever completed.

“In turn, it puts millions of dollars of value back into the economy.”

More than 1,500 have graduated from the program since 1997.

Wayne Reece graduated from the JSTP culinary program in 2014. “I recommend this program to anyone who doesn’t think they have a chance,” he said.

TCC leads a team of public and private organization and employers in the eastern region. It collaborates with local departments of social services and other community agencies to identify potential students.

The JSTP typically receives 250 applications each semester. About 30 are accepted to its certified nursing assistant program and 15 to its culinary arts program.

Once accepted, students complete 35 hours of classes per week.

The JSTP takes a comprehensive approach to addressing concerns for those unable to find jobs for a multitude of reasons. Among the areas covered are housing, professional work attire, transportation and child care.

Graduates receive pre-secured full-time employment. They are provided with on-the-job follow-up services for up to a year.

“I’m pleased that the grant will continue for this TCC program,” said Corey McCray, vice president for Workforce Solutions. “By helping people move into good jobs, we are building not only the workforce but the local economy.”

TCC works with multiple employers for the success of this program.

For example, Sentara Healthcare offers clinical training for students twice a week and has contributed two state-of-the-art labs for training. It hires 45 graduates per year

“We could not make this program work without the help of our community partners,” Boughton said.

The JSTP previously earned the Virginia Community Colleges Workforce Development Excellence Award and the Bank of America’s Community Catalyst Award.

In 2012, the program received an Exemplary Program Award from the National Council for Continuing Education & Training.

For further information on the JSTP, contact Boughton at or call 757-822-1321.