CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin III on Tuesday signed an executive order creating the 21st Century Jobs Cabinet of West Virginia.

This Cabinet will focus on promoting a seamless education system that connects every level of education from early childhood to graduate study and encompasses job training and lifelong learning – enhancing and supporting the state's job creation and economic development efforts.

First Lady Gayle C. Manchin and Ralph Baxter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, will serve as Co-Chairs of the Cabinet.

"I am pleased that the First Lady and Ralph Baxter have agreed to serve as Co-Chairs of this very important Cabinet," Gov. Manchin said. "Education is the key to economic development. The First Lady and I truly believe that if West Virginia is going to compete in the global marketplace we must equip our children and grandchildren with the skills needed to be successful and competitive.

"The Cabinet will focus on promoting a system of education that empowers West Virginians to never stop learning and encourages all citizens to strive for educational achievement and realize their potential for economic prosperity."

The Cabinet also will include: the Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts, the State Superintendent of Schools, the Chief Executive Officer for the Center for Professional Development, the Chancellor of Higher Education, the Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education, the Commissioner of the Bureau for Children and Families, the Executive Director of the West Virginia Development Office, the Director of WORKFORCE West Virginia and other key stakeholders across the state.

The Cabinet will focus on an array of educational issues, such as: improving the preparation, retention and professional development of educators at all levels; creating the West Virginia career pathways model; and, ensuring the integration of vocational and technical education and career counseling into all levels of education.

"We are bringing experts from different backgrounds together to develop innovative solutions to today's educational challenges," the first lady said. "I am confident that by the members of the 21st Century Jobs Cabinet working together we will improve not only our state's educational system, but also our state's economic future."

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