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    Document Summary
    - Report Published -

    Senate Document No. 30

    Document Title
    Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan for the Virginia Quality Confederation and the Virginia Quality Institute

    Secretary of Education; Secretary of Commerce and Trade

    Enabling Authority
    SJR 330 (Regular Session, 1993)

    Executive Summary
    Numerous studies have confirmed that Virginia needs an educated, highly skilled workforce to meet the challenges of global competition. American production techniques, so effective at the turn of the century, are becoming outdated in the face of modern technological advances. The bureaucratic managerial model popular in the 1950's and 60's is too inflexible to effectively cope with today's rapidly changing, increasingly complex marketplace. In addition, American corporations are lured overseas by cheap and often productive foreign labor, a factor which undermines America's competitive edge.

    In order to successfully compete in the global marketplace, Virginia needs to improve the productivity and skills of its workforce and establish high performance work organizations. Continuous improvement concepts such as Total Quality Management provide organizations with the tools to achieve those goals. Continuous improvement focuses on restructuring management practices to empower employees. It teaches companies to pay close attention to consumer needs and to continuously invest in worker training. Virginia's corporate giants are enjoying the returns on their investment in worker training and work reorganization, but many small and medium-sized firms have not yet adopted these reforms. Because the benefits of reorganization take several years to realize, small firms find it difficult to make the initial investment. Consequently, they continue to employ the outdated management practices that keep them functioning below their potential. A recent study by the Southport Institute for Policy Analysis entitled, "The Missing Link: Workplace Education in Small Business" shows that, while many small companies are interested in work reorganization and worker education, they lack the internal resources to effectively access and utilize "best practice" technology and processes.

    Consequently, the Governor's Advisory Committee on Workforce Virginia 2000 recommended that the Commonwealth of Virginia should create incentives which encourage employers to develop training programs for their employees to assure their continuing development and to achieve higher quality production. In response to the Committee's recommendation, the Secretaries of Education and Commerce and Trade proposed several initiatives related to workforce development with special attention to the needs of Virginia workers who may be subject to layoff and dislocation, and to companies seriously affected by defense cutbacks or global competition. The recommendations were summarized in House Document No. 41 which included consideration of tax credits, additional general fund support for community college courses and statewide training initiatives.

    Due to economic conditions, the most feasible proposal at this time calls for the creation of the Virginia Quality Confederation (VQC) and the Virginia Quality Institute, (VQI), a dual approach that seeks to address the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's) by providing information and training quality management practices. VQC and VQI will target all small and medium-sized companies as well as manufacturing defense contractors and subcontractors that will need specialized assistance as the national defense system continues to be downsized. VQC and VQI will also address the needs of the service sector and public agencies in the Commonwealth.

    The Virginia Quality Confederation is a state-wide public-private partnership that would operate out of the Virginia Quality and Productivity Center at Virginia Tech. VQC would bring industry, government and academia together to assist businesses in their efforts to improve performance. VQC aims to support existing quality and productivity programs, facilitate knowledge and information sharing in the area of continuous quality improvement, ensure better integration of efforts across the Commonwealth, and where necessary, spark innovative initiatives.

    The Virginia Quality institute will foster the development of some 25 community-based training and resource centers across the Commonwealth. Each center will evolve based on the needs of local industry. The primary function of local Total Quality Institutes will be to provide affordable training for small and medium-sized companies in the principles of continuous quality improvement and high performance work organizations. The program would be developed over the next six years as a means of increasing the rate of performance improvement in manufacturing and service industries. The Institutes will be supported by the Virginia Community College system and by local chambers of commerce.

    VQC and VQI can function independently, or work in concert to provide a comprehensive system of service delivery for Virginia's organizations. If approved, VQC and VQI will advance the adoption of continuous quality improvement practices by Virginia businesses and ensure long-term organizational and workforce competitiveness.