Graduate Thankful for Virginia Ready Initiative

Charles Newsome is looking forward to his new career.

When Charles Newsome and his wife were expecting their first child, he was working for DoorDash. He realized he needed more. He needed a career.

One of his friends had earned his commercial driver’s license through the Virginia Ready Initiative, which helps state residents prepare for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. Certificates and licenses can be earned in as little as three months, and those who complete the programs are eligible for scholarships worth as much as $1,000.

Newsome, at first, was skeptical. His first thought was no one is going to pay you to go to school.

“But for sure, that’s what it was,” he said.

After talking to an adviser, he entered the electrical program. About four months later, he was working at Serve Pro, a water cleanup and restoration company.

“Everything was smooth sailing,” he said. “A great program.”

The job offer from Serve Pro came before Newsome even finished the class, although it was predicated on him earning his Electrician I certificate. He has seen the benefits of the VA Ready program from the minute he joined Serve Pro, which was about three months ago.

“The job that I’m doing now, I’m using my training for that,” he said. “And it actually helped with my pay because they base it off your experience, and electrical was one of the things needed for the job.”

Newsome went to Jamestown High School, and earned his GED in 2010. Before working for DoorDash, he was involved in the flooring business, but the pandemic halted that. He quickly discovered he enjoyed his new profession.

“I’ve always been curious, so it went hand in hand,” he said of the electrical trade. “Once I got involved in the class, it was just something that I loved to do.”

His education isn’t over as he plans to earn his Electrical II certificate next. He praised instructor Dan Cronin.

He was amazing, very hands-on,” Newsome said of Cronin. “There wasn’t anything very difficult about the class. If you want to get your certificate, you’ll get it. The class was a good group of guys.”

Going through the program was a blessing.

“I would definitely recommend it to anyone that’s searching, looking for a career,” he said. “It’s never too late. I’m 36, and this is the start of my career.”

For more information on the College’s Workforce Development program, go to https://www.vpcc.edu/programs/workforce.

For more information about the Virginia Ready Initiative, go to https://www.vaready.org/about/