When Gov. Terry McAuliffe heard that a proposal for a Virginia Education Center for Asphalt Technology was one of the winners of the $200,000 Governor’s Competition for Talent Solutions grants for 2015, he responded incredulously.

Germanna President Janet Gullickson cut the ribbon Thursday evening at the Virginia Education Center for Asphalt Technology (VECAT) that is part of the GCC Center for Workforce’s larger Fredericksburg Center for Advanced Technology at Central Park.

At the Grand Opening event for VECAT, Jeffrey Brown, the governor’s Director of Workforce Services, said McAuliffe fully realizes the importance of planning, building and maintaining the state’s roads–both to public safety and in terms of creating jobs that pay well, and the importance of closing the skills gap in Virginia. “All the governor cares about is whether there will be jobs that will change people’ lives in meaningful ways so they can have good careers that sustain their families and communities,” Brown said.

Germanna President Gullickson said the importance of Virginia’s infrastructure to public safety and a healthy economy is immeasurable, and that she is happy the college is training students for careers that pay well.

Gullickson also said VECAT will support business growth and jobs creation, increased competitiveness for Virginia’s asphalt industry, continuing education for changing materials and practices and create a supply chain to replace retiring workers. This will be accomplished through entry level to advanced training, stackable credentials, an apprenticeship program and the development of a pathway to an associate degree, she said.

Andy Babish, state materials engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said of VECAT, “The labor pool we all pull from is getting smaller and smaller and this is providing a mechanism to reverse that and all will benefit from a growing, skilled workforce.”

Culpeper resident Ed Dalrymple Jr., president of Chemung Contracting Corp., Dalrymple Holding Corp. and Cedar Mountain Stone, was a force behind the founding of VECAT. He is a former president and the current treasurer of the VAA, a member of the Germanna Educational Foundation and a member of the State Board for Community Colleges.

He said VECAT training will make a difference in the lives of Virginians for decades to come and added that he’s proud that Cedar Mountain Stone has developed a paid apprenticeship program for its students at its quarry in Culpeper.

“At our company [VECAT students] have full-time jobs while in the apprenticeship program and when they’re all done with [it they] still have full-time jobs. They will earn an associate degree and can transfer to a university. But they don’t have to go to a university because [salary] is going to be $85,000 to $100,000 and they’re going to have a full- time job with us.”

Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick said VDOT invests more than $500 million in asphalt paving each year through new construction and maintenance:

Training will include:

  • Asphalt production facilities occupations: plant operators, plant technicians, laboratory technicians and asphalt mix designers
  •  Asphalt placement site occupations: asphalt paving foreman, asphalt paving crew, asphalt paving superintendent, and density technician
  • Transportation agencies occupations: project manager, project engineer, project inspector, plant inspector, asphalt lab technician, asphalt mix designer/certifier
  •  Consulting industry occupations: project engineer, project inspector, asphalt lab technician, and asphalt mix designer/certifier

New certification courses will also be developed and current certifications will be revised to align with asphalt occupations using subject matter experts in those fields following business and industry skill standards.

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