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AREVA Highlights the Important Role of Business in Attracting and Retaining Jobs
July 8, 2013

Greg Vesey, vice president of installed base outage services for AREVA Inc., participated in the Business Roundtable panel at the 2013 Virginia Leadership Summit at the University of Richmond on June 22nd. The panel, which was led by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, included representatives from Newport News Shipbuilding, Rolls Royce North America and Health Diagnostics Labs.

The discussion focused on business leaders’ perspectives regarding what the commonwealth can do to attract and retain jobs in the 21st century. The need for skilled labor, such as welders and machinists, was identified as a key for manufacturing. Thomas Dale of Rolls Royce pointed out that manufacturing is returning to the United States and the states that will benefit are those that have a skilled labor force that can start working immediately. In particular, all panelists highlighted the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, with the recognition that a one-size-fits-all model will not work to address future workforce needs.

While many of the panelists discussed what could be done by the state for business, especially in the educational field, Vesey emphasized the importance of the role business must play. He asked, “What can I do to help Virginia?” and stated that employers need to engage more with state and local institutions in developing the needed workforce. During this discussion, Vesey highlighted AREVA’s relationship with Central Virginia Community College (CVCC), which is home to the AREVA Technical Training Center, as one of the ways the company grows its own talent using local resources. His description of the nuclear technology program, which is coordinated in collaboration with CVCC, elicited the first audience response of the panel, drawing applause and a yell of “brilliant!” from a vocal attendee (a behavior encouraged by the conference curator). This program provides a mix of traditional academic courses, highly focused technology courses, hands-on learning experience and on-the-job training. Complementing Vesey’s remarks, Tonya Mallory of Health Diagnostics Labs reiterated the need for communication between government and business to ensure a productive partnership.

Following the business roundtable, Dr. Christine Chmura echoed the need for additional focus on STEM education in a session titled “Meeting the Workforce Imperative.” Her presentation highlighted the fact that Virginia is under producing graduates in the science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare (STEM-H) fields, particularly in aerospace, nuclear and electrical engineering. To align with the national average of STEM-H degrees to STEM-H job openings, the commonwealth needs to increase the graduation rate by 28 percent. Dr. Chmura’s remarks resonate with the challenges that AREVA anticipates in recruiting the skilled workforce needed as baby boomers retire and members of Generation X and the Millennials, which are smaller population groups, prepare to take their place.

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