By Gov. Joe Manchin, III

CHARLESTON -- I recently was honored to sign 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, As a result of creating this seamless education system, we will enhance and support the state's job creation and economic development efforts.

The 21st Century Jobs Cabinet will focus on an array of issues, such as: creating a career pathways model; developing ways to improve the preparation of educators at all levels; ensuring the integration of vocational education and career counseling into all levels of education; and, promoting greater family and community involvement in the education system.

The key to economic development is an educated work force. If West Virginia is truly going to compete in the global marketplace, we must equip our children and grandchildren with the skills needed to be successful. A seamless system of education will ensure that we have not only an educated and prepared work force, but a competitive one as well.

I have spoken with many business leaders and they are all confident that West Virginia will be experiencing the creation of many, more new jobs in an array of fields, and that is why our state needs workers with various skills -- trained qualified graduates on all levels, from four-year graduates to skilled blue-collar workers.

First Lady Gayle Manchin and Ralph Baxter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, will serve as Co-Chairs of this important endeavor. The 21st Century Jobs Cabinet also will include: the Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts, the State Superintendent of Schools, the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Professional Development, the Higher Education Chancellor, the Community and Technical College Education Chancellor, 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.

With the Cabinet members' leadership and determination, the 21st Century Jobs Cabinet will promote a system of education that empowers West Virginians to never stop learning and encourages all citizens to strive for education achievement and realize their potential for economic prosperity.

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