RCBI, EDA and Appalachian Power team to identify workforce skills in state

Dec. 16, 2019

Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Appalachian Power will undertake a comprehensive analysis of the skills and abilities of workers in 23 West Virginia counties as part of a broader effort to help diversify the state’s economy.

The study is made possible through an EDA grant and matching funds from Appalachian Power, which total more than $112,000.

“EDA and Appalachian Power have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to investing in our communities, with a strong focus on workforce development as a path toward economic diversification,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “A critical component of this effort is having a comprehensive understanding of the skills and abilities of the region’s workforce, particularly related to the transferable skills of underemployed and unemployed workers.”    

The workforce analysis, expected to begin in early spring and be completed by fall 2020, will focus on the following counties: Boone, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Putnam, Raleigh, Roane, Summers, Wayne, and Wyoming.

A similar effort in eastern Kentucky provided economic development officials with workforce data that has resulted in $2 billion in capital investment and the creation of 3,000 jobs. The West Virginia study will aid in preparing the state’s workforce to transition to other occupations as well as attract new jobs and capital investment in sectors that might benefit from the abundant skills of the region’s workforce.

RCBI has provided technical assistance to more than 6,000 manufacturers across the country and delivered skills training to nearly 24,000 individuals – including displaced miners and others affected by the decline in the coal industry – in manufacturing technologies that have helped them transition to other sectors such as aerospace, energy, automotive and information services.