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Steve Cook

Vice President of Workforce Innovation
Hampton Roads Workforce Council
stevecook2

Every year, more than 14,000 military personnel exit the services in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nearly 60% of those highly trained and discipline workers choose to establish residency in Hampton Roads.

Established by the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council (HRWC) oversees workforce development programs for eight counties in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The organization provides strategic workforce development solutions designed to assist businesses in accessing qualified workers and jobseekers in search of suitable job openings and training opportunities to bolster their earning potential.

Steve Cook, Vice President of Workforce Innovation at HRWC, sat down with the Alliance to share why having the resources to help these exiting military members transition into the civilian workforce is paramount for workforce development and ultimately business attraction. 

Tell us a bit about your background in economic development and workforce development.

I’ve worked in economic development for over 20 years. I started with an internship with the City of Hampton’s ED department during the spring of my senior year at Christopher Newport University. From there, I worked for Virginia Tech’s Economic Development Assistance Center while attending VT for Masters. My first full time job in economic development was working for York County’s Economic Development office, where I spent five years building their business retention program. I went on to work for the Peninsula Alliance for Economic Development, before it merged with the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance. For the next twelve years, I worked for the Alliance marketing our region nationally and internationally. My background in local and regional economic development led me to be hired as the VP of Workforce Innovation for the Hampton Roads Workforce Council in 2015 and I have been there since.

What is the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and what is their role in regional economic development?

The HRWC serves as the regional leader of workforce development, ensuring the strategic alignment of efforts that facilitate meaningful employment and economic growth in Hampton Roads. We serve the eight communities on the Southside, from Southampton to Virginia Beach. Our newest endeavor is a collaborative agreement with the Greater Peninsula Workforce Board where we will address business engagement, communication and outreach efforts, labor market intelligence, veteran transition support and services and emerging workforce services with one voice. A true regional collaborative of workforce services, offering one point of contact for these services for all of Hampton Roads.

What’s the relationship between the HRWC and the Alliance?

We like to say that Workforce Development is Economic Development – Wefocus on the people side of the equation while the Alliance focuses on business attraction. Workforce development is typically the number one reason why a company chooses to locate to an area, so when the CEO and/or the HR Manager of that company is visiting the region, the Alliance and our team work together to present the different programs and services we offer to make that transition as stress-free as possible.

In your experience, what is the significance of the exiting military for the Hampton Roads region?

Having a pool of talented men and women transitioning from the military in our region every year gives us an advantage that not many communities can brag about. Our transitioning service members, veterans, and their spouses bring a wealth of experience, the ability to work in a team, insight, and a strong work ethic making them highly attractive for regional employers. 

What services does the Hampton Roads Workforce Council offer exiting military? What is the Veterans Career Compass?

The HRWC, along with many partners, established the Hampton Roads Veterans Employment Center, based in Norfolk near Military Circle. The Center is designed to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military families identify, navigate, and access services and resources to attain their employment goals and support their successful transition to the civilian workforce in Hampton Roads. Many of our partners provide staff support to assist with making the transition as seamless and easy as possible.

The Hampton Roads Veterans Career Compass (HRVCC) is an online resource dedicated to connecting veterans, transitioning service members and spouse/family members with Hampton Roads employers. The HRVCC has features that will enable military connected job seekers to identify and apply to jobs aligned with their military background and interests, while the employer has dedicated access to these job seekers all the while signaling their commitment to increase employment opportunities for this significant sector for our region.

How does a military transcript get reconfigured into a working resume?

After logging on to the Veteran Career Portal, the job seeker initiates the process of building their story. This includes the ability to upload your military transcript which then creates a working resume. The job seeker can customize this resume to meet the requirements outlined from the employer. If they prefer, they can meet one of our career coaches at the Veterans Employment Center for more assistance with their resume and other services offered at the Center.

For more information about how the Hampton Roads Workforce Council is serving the military population and others in Hampton Roads, please visit www.vcwhamptonroads.org or contact Steve Cook at scook@vcwhamptonroads.org.

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