Skip to main content

Background Image for Header: West Virginia scenery

Improving Advanced Education and Training to Prepare Tomorrow’s High-tech Workforce


The pillars to a robust, prepared talent pool are driven by:

  • Determining what skills job creators require, today and tomorrow, to employ West Virginians.
  • Recognizing what changes should be made to the educational and vocational systems to prepare West Virginians for rapidly advancing technology that is changing workplace demands at lightening-speed.
  • Implementing the evidence-based data that reveals how best to create a resilient economy.
Students working together on assignment.


  • August 2017

    The blueprint calls for education system changes to prepare talent pipeline
  • November 2017

    WVPEC 2nd annual Legislators’ Forum informs legislative body of blueprint recommendations
  • First quarter 2018

    Evidence-based research and surveys are carried out among policy experts, educators, employers and entrepreneurs on policies, best practices
  • June 2018

    Job creators, entrepreneurs, policy experts and community leaders signify the need to better prepare the West Virginia workforce and the future role of education and training
  • October 2018

    Focus Forward conference explores how AI, machine learning and advanced technologies alter workforce needs today, impact jobs of tomorrow
  • December 2018

    WVPEC 3rd annual Legislator’s Forum aligns WV Forward research and stakeholders’ expertise to highlight policy ideas


Focus Forward
To focus on tailored solutions, WV Forward partners hosted a first-of-its-kind conference in October 2018 to address how machine learning and artificial intelligence will significantly impact future jobs and required skills. Never before have government officials, legislators, education leaders, economists and industry executives from across West Virginia and beyond come together to discuss how machine learning and advanced technologies will impact how to build the skills, knowledge, resiliency and productivity of West Virginia’s workforce.

Jen Giovannitti

Preparing today for tomorrow's workforce

Industry executives reveal significant disruptions in technology have already transformed industry sectors, from automation systems, lasers, computer-generated mechanisms and machine production and shipping. As technologies continue to rapidly evolve, Forward’s blueprint cautions the need to better prepare today for the radically changing workforce demands and the future role of education. 

Leaning on the expertise of job creators and employers, WV Forward has joined forces with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative to help determine best practices to advanced education and training to conform to a high-tech workforce. To ensure the state charts a path to economic prosperity, West Virginia must expand its prepared workforce – retaining talent and cultivating an educational system that fosters the essential skills needed meet the demands of a changing workforce landscape.

Emerging from leadership exchanges with the Hunt Institute, job creators, entrepreneurs, policy experts and community leaders, evidence-based research, surveys and evolving discussions are underway to help implement innovative policies and practices that can drive West Virginia’s economy.

Focus Forward

Focus Forward Takaways

Employers and experts concur that success in the future workforce directly ties to lifelong learning and workers’ willingness to continue professional development and training throughout their careers. And though industry needs will continue to evolve, there is a consensus that not all will be as affected by machine learning, such as those that require a strong human connection, creativity, improvisation, complex problem solving in certain environments and leadership skills.

While higher education and West Virginia policies are moving in the right direction, there is also an agreement more needs to be done to meet West Virginians where they are, particularly to engage and retain nontraditional and first-generation students, rural students, veterans and those who live in underrepresented areas across the state.

By heeding to economic statistics and job creators, government and policy experts must work together to advance education and training to produce the in-demand skillsets employers need to hire West Virginians.

Focus Forward event photo

Focus Forward lessons learned

  • The “hollowing out” of the middle class has widened the pay gap and has established severe limitations on resilience of the lower and middle classes to adapt to changes in the workforce;
  • The college premium “inoculates” trained and educated workers so that they withstand periods of high unemployment rates, which is likely to continue as artificial intelligence and machine learning impact both lower- and middle-class jobs;
  • A need exists in economic development to create “clusters” in regions of West Virginia to attract industries that attract more economic development;
  • Pairing industries with educational institutions creates a natural pathway for students to move into the workplace, as well as to encourage lifelong learning; and
  • The jobs of tomorrow have job descriptions that do not exist today.
West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael

Legislators’ Forum on Education and the Economy

Hosted by the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative, the Legislators’ Forum is an annual event to invite West Virginia legislators to join a future-facing conversation about educational issues, policies, challenges, funding and more.

Using West Virginia Forward as a blueprint, the nonpartisan conference convenes policy experts, corporate leaders and educational practitioners to stimulate dialogue, hold pertinent discussions among key stakeholders, examine national best practices and invite partnerships in shaping improvements to West Virginia’s education system.

The Forum is sponsored by West Virginia University, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and numerous community partners.
Learn more at


  • West Virginia Public Education Collaborative
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
  • West Virginia Development Office
  • Hunt Institute
  • Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia Community and Technical College System
  • West Virginia Department of/State Board of Education
  • Shepard University
  • Remake Learning
  • The Education Alliance Business and community for public schools
  • rural school and community trust
  • Organizations Concerned about Rural Education; Coalition for Community Schools
  • Pierpont CTC
  • Carnegie Mellon University Logo
  • Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center
  • June Harless Center for Rural Educational Research and Development

Be part of something bigger.

We want to hear from you. Share your ideas. Stay informed. Help us move West Virginia Forward.

WVU logo West Virginia Seal Marshall University logo

Contact Us

*Citations available upon request.