Reynolds is piloting a new workforce program providing Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training for participants as they earn a GED®.
PluggedInVA (PIVA) is a statewide workforce program focusing on GED® preparation combined with skill development leading to industry-recognized credentials. With a strong track record in other localities, Reynolds’ Middle College and the Capital Region’s Adult Education programs partnered to launch the PIVA project model in the Richmond area.
While the pilot will launch with CNA instruction, using the PIVA model allows Reynolds to expand to other career studies programs. After completing the GED, PIVA students would then matriculate into Reynolds credit courses focusing on Personal Care Assistant, Certified Nurse Aide and other healthcare related classes. Reynolds is exploring additional industries, such as welding, manufacturing, and logistics, for future PIVA programs.
Virginia Credit Union joins PIVA, the Jackson Foundation, and Capital One in providing grant funding to support the GED® to CNA pilot. “We’ve supported Middle College for many years,” said Virginia Credit Union President Chris Shockley. “This new element of having participants also graduate with a credential for employment adds muscle to the GED. It’s a smart upgrade, and we’re pleased to support the effort.”
The “learn and earn” structure attracted Thomas, a self-employed handyman. “I felt incomplete not having my GED, and this sounded appealing. They actually need more men in the nursing field.” Thomas has completed half of this digital literacy coursework and is preparing to take his second of four GED tests. “It’s building my confidence for a stable job as a nurse aide. As a handyman, I like helping people. This is helping, but in a different way. I’m enjoying it and my kids are excited for me, too.”
The contextualized curriculum makes this GED program unique, according to Mary Jo Washko, director of Middle College and Great Expectations at Reynolds. “The GED reading and math coursework is infused with vocabulary and practical math used on the job – by Certified Nurse Aides and Personal Care Assistants. Upon GED completion, students will continue, as a cohort, into the second semester where they will train and sit for the Certified Nurse Aide exam. Because of our grants, we can offer this at no charge to participants – and, these are men and women who truly need the opportunity and are grateful to have it.”
Adult Education is a key partner, providing classroom instruction and outreach to the communities of Region 15.
Classes are held at Reynolds’ Downtown Campus, which is the site of the college’s School of Nursing and Allied Health. “This is a college and career pathway initiative, because it positions students to continue their training in healthcare while gaining practical experience and a paycheck as a CNA. Middle College has always been focused on GED attainment as an important first step to post-secondary education, but it shouldn’t be the last,” Washko said.