By Trevor Metcalfe
Opportunity Inc., the Hampton Roads workforce development board, unveiled both a new name and a new regional initiative at its annual meeting Sept. 26.
The board is now called the Hampton Roads Workforce Council.
The rebranding effort came about as the organization was trying to figure out how to be more relevant to both employers and prospective employees in Hampton Roads, President Shawn Avery said. OppInc. needed a name that both identified the region and reflected the true nature of its work – workforce development.
“It’s not just about my organization or my staff,” Avery said. “It’s about a regional staff of workforce development.”
Avery also hoped the new name would let the community know the board is more than just an overseer of federal workforce dollars and programs.
“It’s a broad approach to workforce development,” Avery said.
The rebranding work, which Avery said happened in the winter and spring of 2018, also coincided with a statewide effort to rename the One-Stop Workforce Centers – employment and training centers for both job-seekers and businesses. They will now bear the name Virginia Career Works to signify a more unified workforce development effort, Avery said.
“You can kind of see how they are tying them all together,” he said.
Avery said he expects the Hampton Roads brand to be fully implemented by the end of the year.
Avery also announced the formation of the Southeastern Virginia Workforce Collaborative – a regional effort between the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and the Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Board.
With one swift movement, Avery pulled the covering off a huge, poster-sized resolution between the two groups. Board chairs Delceno Miles and John Olson then signed the document.
Under the new organization, members from both workforce boards will work together to align their efforts and increase awareness of their services, according to the resolution.
“We recognize that the Hampton Roads and Greater Peninsula local workforce development boards are part of a regional ecosystem tasked with addressing the workforce development needs of employers across jurisdictional and geographic boundaries,” Avery said.
The two workforce boards will now appoint members to a regional council, as well as jointly draft a charter for the organization.
Last year, Opportunity Inc. career centers served 9,721 people looking for work, according to data from the event. Additionally, they placed 495 people in jobs, with an average yearly salary of $32,282.
“For me, it’s always been about partnerships and addressing needs and moving at the speed of business,” Avery said. “You’ve got to be able to meet those needs.”