The Council on Virginia's Future works in four areas -- strategic vision / roadmap development, assessment, service performance, and productivity improvement -- to enhance the state's effectiveness in making Virginia an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Roadmap Development

New Series of Virginia Futures Forums Tackle Priority Issues back to top 


A New Series of Forums

Futures Forums logomarkAs part of its ongoing commitment to long-term goals and the exploration of high-priority issues, the Council on Virginia’s Future has launched a new series of Futures Forums to discuss some of the critical questions facing Virginia. During these meetings, thought leaders from government, business and the community come together to explore and help clarify ways we might improve outcomes for the state.

Perhaps nothing plays a more vital role in securing Virginia’s economic competitiveness than educational attainment. Yet despite Virginia’s successes, business leaders continue to express concern over the quality of the workforce available to them. A recent analysis by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems indicated that Virginia would need to produce at least 70,000 additional college degrees over the next 10 years to meet the current international higher education attainment benchmark. This “degrees gap” is particularly worrisome because Virginia’s 25 to 34 year old cohort is not as well educated as the previous cohort aged 35 to 54.

This drop in attainment levels mirrors what has happened in the United States as a whole. Twenty years ago, America led the world in the educational achievement of its citizens. Since then, however, countries as diverse as Canada, Korea, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand have surged past the U.S. in educating their younger adults.

2006 Adult Educational Attainment Rates by Age Cohort
U.S. and Five Leading Countries

Adults with at least an Associate's Degree
(per 100 Adults)
Percent Difference in Attainment Rate
  Age 45 to 54 Age 25 to 34
Canada 43.2 54.8 26.9%
Japan 39.3 54.1 37.7%
Korea 19.2 53.0 176.0%
New Zealand 38.1 43.6 14.4%
Ireland 24.0 42.2 75.8%
Virginia 42.9 41.6 -3.0%
United States 39.6 39.2 -1.0%
Source:  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Education at a Glance, 2008
You may also view the complete OECD graph of developed countries' degrees output.

Given growing concerns about Virginia’s long-term economic competitiveness and prosperity, the Council convened its first Futures Forum - Economic Competitiveness: Enhancing the Alignment of Higher Education with Long-term Workforce Needs. This forum brought together leaders from higher education, government and the business community to examine the connections between post-secondary education and the state's workforce.

Higher Ed and the Workforce:  Alignment and Misalignments

The correlations between education and income have actually grown stronger over time: The higher the level of education, the higher the income earned. This is true not only for individuals but also for states and nations. As a result, everyone -- students, business people, government and education leaders -- has a stake in how well such an important relationship is understood and managed.

Dr. Chris Chmura presented forum attendees with data detailing the connections between occupational groups, surpluses and shortages by industry (e.g., health care, manufacturing, IT) and the types of training and degrees being produced at the post-secondary level in Virginia. Chmura argued that improving the quantity, quality and access to information about future workforce needs could encourage better alignment between education and the workforce.

Some cautions do exist. Forum attendees concluded that, in looking at possible misalignments between the kinds of graduates or certifications being produced versus projected job opportunities, taking too literal or prescriptive an approach could be problematic. Student choice matters and the process of reducing misalignment is complicated by the constant churn in the economy from expanding and declining industries, by shifting skill requirements within occupations, and by the ongoing economic cycles of growth and expansion.

At the local or regional level, shifts by just one or a few employers or changes in government policy can have dramatic employment consequences. Finally, informing emerging workers about high-demand occupations will not be fruitful if the education they receive does not sufficiently prepare them for the increasing complexity they will face on their jobs. More analysis is needed to help the state take a more effective and proactive approach to aligning higher education with longer-term regional and statewide workforce needs.

Dr. Craig Herndon from the Virginia Community College System showcased highlights of the new VCCS Virginia Education Wizard for forum attendees. See sidebar at right for a brief summary of that demo. 

For access to a complete summary for this forum, as well as to all the materials presented, please go to the Council's Forums pageend of story


Avatar and logo for Virginia Education Wizard
Developed by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), the Virginia Education Wizard is a Web tool that puts a wealth of education and career data in the hands of prospective students, parents and guidance counselors. The Wizard is a comprehensive tool that can pull together the disparate information needed before making career or study choices: interests and values assessments, matches with potential careers, related educational requirements, salary, possible colleges, tuition, scholarship and transfer requirements, and so on.
Soon the Wizard will support the Virginia Department of Education’s new requirements for students to begin developing career plans in the 7th grade and will play a role in the Commonwealth’s evolving Career Pathways program. Already quite thorough where public 2-year institutions are concerned, plans are also underway to expand Programs data to include 4-year and proprietary schools, along with more information about certificates and apprenticeship opportunities.
Check out the Wizard yourself!
Service Performance

Under Construction:  Virginia's New Performance Budgeting System   back to top

It’s official! The software is selected and teams are busy implementing Virginia’s new performance-based budgeting and strategic planning system. The first four modules – operating budget development, six-year financial planning, capital budget development, and budget execution – will be up and running by August 15, 2010. Agency spending plans and strategic planning modules will be available in March 2011.

After a lengthy process to find the right match of functionality, expertise and track record, the implementation of the performance budgeting system is now moving rapidly. There were many sophisticated solutions available, but Project Performance Corporation (PPC), a management and information technology consulting firm based in Virginia, demonstrated that they could meet Virginia’s unique needs for flexibility, speed, collaborative workflows, user orientation, and performance-based decision-making capabilities. PPC will also partner with CapTech Ventures, which is a Richmond-based small business management and systems integration firm, and Sevatec, Inc., also based in Virginia.

Once in place, the new system will give Virginia fast, accurate, comprehensive, and integrated performance-based budgeting, planning, and decision-making capabilities.  end of story


Agency Training on Performance Measures   back to top

The value of Virginia Performs lies in its usefulness for driving meaningful change. It gives Virginia’s leaders and agency heads a solid framework for decision-making, driven by better information on the outcomes and results that matter most to Virginians.

A wide range of agency-level performance data is at the heart of the system. The job of enhancing and improving that information will never end: missions and strategies evolve, challenges shift and grow, and customers and clients change.

Now, with the recent addition of productivity and administrative measures, agencies have an even stronger framework for decision-making. They also have a bigger challenge: More information isn’t necessarily better information; the right information needs to get to the right people in a way that will allow them to act. Ongoing refinement is vital, and agencies need to be constantly asking: Are we measuring the right things in the right way?

Training is vital to the improvement process and more than 185 personnel from 83 agencies went through three day-long training sessions to help them improve their core performance measures.

Feedback from the training participants was interesting. One of the questions the instructors asked was: “What advantages has your agency derived from performance measures?” Their answers -- which included changed policies, improvements in quality and process, and an increased sense of accomplishment among employees -- reveal the wide range of benefits organizations can draw from the performance measures process.   end of story


News from the Productivity Investment Fund  back to top

The Productivity Investment Fund has already seen marked success through projects as wide-ranging as the Business One Stop, online unemployment claims, and the expansion of prenatal health care in rural Virginia via telemedicine -- to name just a few.

Some additional productivity projects were given the green light recently, with similar potential benefits in efficiency and effectiveness:

  • Teams from VCU's DaVinci and English Centers, and UVa's Darden and Curry Centers have been given a grant to develop the prototype for a Virginia Educators Resource Portal. The site would provide administrators and teachers a single point of access to share education resources and best practices; engage in topic-based communications; and collaborate in the development of new education resources.
  • The Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) is embarking on a project to explore more efficient ways for the state to purchase and manage pharmaceuticals.

A recent invitation for proposals has resulted in a high number of inquiries and applications.  Awards will be announced in late September 2009; stay tuned for an update in our next newsletter.  end of story