The Re-Employing Virginians (REV) Initiative Can Help Rev-Up Our Workforce

By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.

Employment data for Virginia present a complicated picture. In 2019 before COVID-19 shutdowns impacted the economy, Virginia reported an unemployment rate of only 2.7%. During 2020, the rate skyrocketed to 14.4% before sliding back down. Recent statistics peg it at 4.5%.

Yet, job seekers say they still can’t find jobs, and employers say they can’t find workers to fill open positions. One piece of this puzzle appears to be a mismatch between the skills sought and those held by unemployed and underemployed workers.

To help address this, Virginia’s governor created the Re-Employing Virginians (REV) initiative as part of the statewide response under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by the U.S. Congress last year. REV Training Vouchers provide funds for job training in high-demand areas such as early childhood education, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, skilled trades, and public safety. The REV program began last October and will expire at the end of this year.

Tammy Wiley and Cameron Vassar are two of the REV Coaches SVCC currently employed to guide students who have become unemployed or underemployed as a result of the pandemic. Their duties include enrolling students, helping them succeed during course work, and assisting in job-seeking activities through connections with local employers, career counseling, and help with practical tasks such as creating resumes and writing cover letters. Plans for a career fair are also underway.

Marsha Hawkins, a current student who worked with Wiley as her REV Coach, remembers hearing that her job would end. “I was shocked and lost as to what my future would hold. At age 61 I had to make a decision. I knew that I needed benefits, such as medical and life insurance; therefore, I had to do something quickly. My decision was to go back to school to learn a new trade. My course of study is Medical Office Assistant, which is a two-year program with an AAS degree. Tammy worked with me on getting financial assistance. Tammy also assisted me in getting my schedule together. I was a little overwhelmed trying to do it myself. So far, my classes have not been easy because my brain cells were asleep. However, I am doing well and Tammy checks on me often to make sure I’m OK and to see if I need any assistance in anything. I’m a true believer that if one door closes, God has another one opened and waiting for us to walk in.”

Several factors guide eligibility. Workers who received unemployment benefits after August 1, 2020, even if they also received prior benefits, are eligible. Also, workers who transitioned from full-time to part-time jobs as a result of the pandemic are eligible if they are currently earning less than $15 per hour. Training vouchers up to $1,500 assist workforce and part-time students, and vouchers up to $3,000 are available for full-time students. Furthermore, as Wiley explains, “If we cannot obtain all required funding through the REV program, we do our best to exhaust other available resources.”

Vassar adds, “I’d love for everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to expand career options. We’re trying to help as many people as we can.”

For more information about REV eligibility, training voucher amounts, and qualifying programs, please visit SVCC’s website (southside.edu) or call 434-949-1021.

Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at quentin.johnson@southside.edu.


VSP “Ride 2 Save Lives” Motorcycle Courses Offered Thru October

Summer is in full swing and many Virginia motorcyclists have been enjoying the beautiful weather on the open road. Tragically, as the temperatures have risen, so have the number of riders who have lost their lives in traffic crashes. Since June 1, 2021, 21 riders have died on Virginia roadways in traffic crashes. Of those, nine have been in single-vehicle crashes.

Virginia State Police is urging all motorists to do their part to share the road responsibly. Passenger and commercial vehicle drivers need to remain alert for motorcyclists due to their size and visibility. When pulling onto or across a roadway or when changing lanes, drivers are especially advised to be on the lookout for motorcycles as they can be obstructed by other vehicles, glare, etc.

Per vehicle miles traveled in 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports motorcyclists were about 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were 4 times more likely to be injured. Safe motorcycling takes balance, coordination, and good judgment. To help enhance motorcyclists’ safety, state police is encouraging Virginians to participate in the free “Ride 2 Save Lives” motorcycle self-assessment courses being offered now through October 2021. This course allows current riders the opportunity to learn and practice rider safety, how to handle hazards, special situations, interstate highways, curve negotiation and much more. The course is conducted by Virginia State Police Motors Troopers and allows riders to get to know their own motorcycles in a safe environment.

All participants must have a valid operator’s license with a Class ‘M’ endorsement, appropriate riding attire, and helmet and eye protection. Motorcycles must be street legal and helmets must be DOT approved to participate in this program.

Hampton Roads:

  • July 24 – 8:30 a.m. – Yorktown – Waters Edge Church
  • Aug. 21 – 8:30 a.m. – Virginia Beach – ADS, Inc.
  • Sept. 25 – 8:30 a.m. – Yorktown – Waters Edge Church
  • Oct. 23 – 8:30 a.m. – Virginia Beach – ADS, Inc.


  • Aug. 14 – 9 a.m. – Richmond – Steel Horse Harley Davidson
  • Sept. 18 – 9 a.m. – Richmond – Steel Horse Harley Davidson
  • Oct. 2 – 9 a.m. – Richmond – Steel Horse Harley Davidson

Central Virginia/New River Valley:

  • Aug. 21 – 8:30 a.m. – Salem – Lakeside Baptist Church
  • Sept. 18 – 8:30 a.m. – Lynchburg – Central Virginia Community College
  • Sept. 18 – 8:30 a.m. – Salem – Lakeside Baptist Church
  • Oct. 16 – 8:30 a.m. – Salem – Salem Red Sox Stadium
  • Oct. 16 – 8:30 a.m. – Lynchburg – Central Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia:

All available classes are full.

Virginia State Police conducts the “Ride 2 Save Lives” course yearly, beginning in the spring and ending in the fall. A comprehensive listing of Ride 2 Save Lives courses can be found by visiting virginiastatepolice.eventbrite.com. Space is limited and advanced registration for these free courses is required.

Governor Northam Launches #YourSayVA Digital Town Hall on Speeding

Virginians are encouraged to participate through August 13

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced a new summer travel safety campaign and survey designed to engage Virginians in efforts to reduce speed-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities on the Commonwealth’s roadways.

The “Don’t Speed Thru Summer. Make it Last.” initiative uses both online and traditional media to focus on the dangers of speed and aggressive driving. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety, preliminary numbers indicate speed-related crashes have already claimed 182 lives on Virginia’s roadways and injured another 4,248 people within the first six months of 2021. Last year, 22,479 speed-related crashes on Virginia roadways resulted in 406 fatalities, the highest number in at least 10 years.

“Speed is driving up the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our roadways to record high levels,” said Governor Northam. “But these are not just statistics, these are the lives of parents, children, siblings, spouses, friends, and loved ones. As the summer continues, I urge all Virginians to make safe driving a priority as you travel throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.”

In addition, Governor Northam is inviting Virginians to participate in the #YourSayVA Digital Town Hall on speeding through Friday, August 13. To participate, visit the Commonwealth’s new highway safety portal, TZDVA.org, and click the icon for the #YourSayVA Digital Town Hall to access the anonymous survey. The data collected from the #YourSayVA Digital Town Hall will better inform state leaders of driving behaviors related to speeding. 

Speeding is the latest traffic-safety priority to be addressed by the Governor and his Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety, which is composed of representatives from the Virginia Departments of Motor Vehicles, Transportation, Health, Education and State Police, and led by the Secretaries of Transportation and Public Safety and Homeland Security. The team is charged with reducing fatalities on Virginia’s roadways and driving change in the Commonwealth’s highway safety culture. 

“While this may be hard to believe, driving seven miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit of 65 miles per hour saves approximately five minutes when traveling to a destination 60 miles away,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to safely maneuver around curves, adds to the time it takes to come to a complete stop, and increases the risk of crashes and injuries.”

“Every driver in Virginia plays a role in helping prevent a crash on our roadways by following the posted speed limits,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Complying with the posted speed limits not only protects your life but the lives around you.”

The Executive Leadership Team on Highway Safety will be promoting the “Don’t Speed Thru Summer. Make it Last.” campaign, both as a group and as individual agencies throughout the summer season. To stay up to date, follow the hashtag #SlowDownVA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 


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