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New Partnership Seeks to Expand Internships, Job Training

VSU President
Virginia State University President Makola Abdullah, part of the partnership, speaks to press during a September event. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM News)

On Tuesday, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce announced a partnership with the State Council of Higher Education to create more internships and apprenticeships for college students.

The Virginia Talent and Opportunity Partnership  tries to keep students  in Virginia after graduation by sponsoring internships and apprenticeships in industries such as IT, life sciences and manufacturing. They also work with employers to create and improve internship programs.

During a virtual conference, Chamber CEO Barry DuVal emphasized the partnership’s bipartisan appeal, and said it’s supported by a number of state leaders.

“This has been endorsed by the governor, members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle, business groups around the commonwealth,” DuVal said.

In 2019, the General Assembly expanded funding to public universities to grow their internship programs through the Commonwealth Innovative Internship Fund and Program.

During the conference, Virginia State University President Makola Abdullah called for a greater focus on paid internships, and said he hopes employers will continue to offer remote internships after the pandemic to benefit students who lack access to transportation.

“Internships are so very important for our students to really be prepared. It's one of the critical ways that they can learn about the workforce before they even graduate from college,” he said.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 10% of students participate in work-based learning opportunities, while 70% of employers expect recent graduates to have previous relevant work experience when hired.

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