Lunch and Some Policy

Gov. McAuliffe talks to college newspapers about jobs, Trump’s orders

Standing in a parlor decorated with original paintings of George Washington, Pocahontas and other prominent Virginians, Governor Terry McAuliffe generously welcomed student reporters from all across the Commonwealth into his home with a handshake and a smile on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

The event, which the Governor described as the first lunch he has hosted for college reporters, was also attended by Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent.

As the guests were seated, Governor McAuliffe spoke of the colorful history flourishing throughout the 204-year-old mansion, bringing special attention to the display of silver plates in the dining room that sailed on the U.S.S. Virginia.

Virginia Governor McAuliffe discusses state and federal policies during lunch with reporters and editors from state colleges and universities at the Governor’s Mansion last week.
Virginia Governor McAuliffe discusses state and federal policies during lunch with reporters and editors from state colleges and universities at the Governor’s Mansion last week.

Once introductions were made and the first course was served, the conversation naturally gravitated toward a controversial, yet expected, topic: President Trump.

The President and Governor McAuliffe are no strangers to one another. Despite their differing views in politics, Trump donated $25,000 to McAuliffe’s campaign in 2009, and when Trump won the presidency, McAuliffe called him to discuss ways the two could work with one another. However, with Trump’s recent actions, Governor McAuliffe has an obvious aversion to the President’s vision of America.

“This is not the America I know,” McAuliffe retaliated after referencing some of President Trump’s Executive Orders.

The Governor explained that the recent immigration ban forced America to experience unfamiliar issues, such as the devastating encounter he recently had when a mother begged him to help her four-year-old son who was detained in an airport, alone for hours.

“Why are we putting mothers through this?” McAuliffe asked before stressing the importance of young individuals engaging in their civic duty by calling elected officials in order to make sure incidents like this never happen again.

With many reporters asking questions ranging from the immigrant ban to challenges affecting higher education, the main course of the conversation focused on job development in Virginia, especially jobs in cybersecurity and other technical related jobs.

“It’s very easy to find a job,” Governor McAuliffe revealed. “But it has to be something tech-related.”

McAuliffe noted that there are over 150,000 tech-related jobs currently being unfilled in Virginia, some jobs even starting out at $80,000 a year. Yet, as McAuliffe stated, the problem isn’t with job opportunity, it is with job training.

A major factor playing into the absence of applications for the jobs that  McAuliffe worked to create is the way school systems approach STEM-related courses. According to McAuliffe, there needs to be a shift in the way higher education functions in Virginia in order to address this issue.

The Governor’s goal to make Virginia a booming state for cybersecurity pairs nicely with Chancellor Henry’s economic vision for Southwest Virginia. The many advancements that the college has recently made, such as the addition of a Software Engineering degree, provides UVa-Wise students with training for the available jobs.

As the guests finished the final course, Governor McAuliffe ended with a well-resonated message in the room. Although McAuliffe pushes the need for tech jobs to be filled, he stated that you don’t need to be a warrior in cybersecurity to be happy in life.

“At the end of the day, follow your passion,” McAuliffe said. “I cannot imagine going to work every day to a job I don’t like doing.”

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