It’s to become a new Workforce Training Development Center
Alexandria, VA – The Mt. Vernon Athletic Club has been acquired by the Fairfax County government to become a recreational and workforce training development center. The new center is scheduled to open in late summer or early fall 2021.
Adjacent to Audubon Mobile Home Park and just one mile from Good Shepherd Affordable Housing Community, the athletic club is central to residents in the area who need its resources most.
Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk says, “We’ve gotten good feedback from the community. They need places for kids after school and on the weekends. There aren’t recreational centers in that community already, and it’s unfortunate that kids there don’t have places to go play.” Someone will be chosen from within the community to manage the new center so that people will see a familiar face when they come in.
The 50,000 square feet of the facility will be divided into areas for distinct purposes:
(1) 30,000 sq. ft. for recreation, to include a child care facility, after school programs, and other community-related activities.
(2) 7,500 sq. ft. for workforce training, including classrooms and shop rooms, with a large open area in the center.
(3) The final 12,500 sq. ft. will be dedicated to needs identified by community members themselves. The county’s Neighborhood and Community Services department will issue a public outreach process for this identification.
Workforce training will include medical technology, emerging technologies such as drones and sensor technology, and trade skills. Individuals will also learn how to identify available jobs and what skills, training, certifications, and programs they need to fill those positions.
The workforce training development center is unique in that anyone from middle school to middle age is welcome. It can open doors that residents may not have been able to open themselves, or even know there were doors at all.
The plan is that middle-schoolers will see what happens in the program, and then their parents will get the training. “We want to have kids in middle and high school see what we are doing at the center,” says Lusk. “We want to give them exposure and education, not just training. We recognize that some kids might not be able to go to college, so we want to show examples of individuals who have gone into welding, plumbing, etc.”
David Temple, former Deputy Secretary of Education for the State of Virginia, adds, “What we are doing is expanding their world of opportunities, not discouraging college. If we can convince a kid to be a programmer, they will need college for that, but we want to give them an avenue. This training will make it easier for them to get into college.”
After finalizing agreements and partnerships with local companies and non-profits, the training will be free for anyone interested.
“Everyone that I have talked to about this mission… they get it, they want to help in some way,” explains Lusk. “I am really encouraged by that. We look forward to getting the center up and running.”