Group photo of five SVHEC staff members who worked on the NCCER accreditation process.
SVHEC NCCER Work Group (l-r): Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens (Chief Strategy Officer), Sandi Satterfield (Director of Workforce Training Programs), Jermaine Gooden (Workforce Development Program Coordinator), Natasha Lipscomb (Southside Area Health Education Center Director), and Stephanie Robinson (Career Tech Academy Director). Not pictured: Rosa Dunn (Career Tech Academy Curriculum & Career Advisor).

The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) has been designated as an Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS) through the National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER). This accomplishment represents a significant milestone and full-circle moment for SVHEC and its Workforce Training division staff who led the internal accreditation process. 

NCCER is the nation’s leading provider of construction education for industry and career and technical education programs. The NCCER curriculum has been tested and approved by industry, and an NCCER credential represents a “seal of approval” recognized across the construction trades.  

SVHEC has offered hands-on training programs leading to NCCER certification since launching the Welding@SVHEC program in 2014. At that time, employers associated with the welding program requested the use of training and credentials certified by NCCER. To accomplish this, Virginia Technical Institute (VTI) in Altavista, VA, partnered with the SVHEC and served as the agency’s NCCER Program Sponsor. SVHEC’s Workforce Training team worked closely with VTI to implement the NCCER approved welding curriculum. 

Since 2014, SVHEC’s workforce training offerings have expanded and now includes the IT Academy, Industrial Maintenance/Automated Technology Systems, HVAC-R, Welding and Customized Training. High school students enrolled in the SVHEC Career Tech Academy’s welding and HVAC programs may also earn NCCER credentials.  

With the growth and success of SVHEC’s workforce training initiatives, and with the support of VTI’s leadership, the time was right for the agency to pursue accreditation as an NCCER Accredited Training Sponsor. This designation provides SVHEC with more autonomy and flexibility in providing future workforce training programs.  

Under the leadership of Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, Chief Strategy Officer, SVHEC established an NCCER accreditation workgroup who diligently worked for over a year in pursuit of this goal. The lengthy process began in March 2022 and included staff training and development, standardizing processes, completing an extensive application, and passing a comprehensive audit.  

According to Dr. Simon-Owens, “the assistance and insight provided by Virginia Technical Institute’s leadership throughout our working relationship with them ensured that we were prepared for the accreditation process. Additionally, NCCER staff were extremely helpful in providing needed guidance to the agency’s work group consisting of Jermaine Gooden, Sandi Satterfield, Stephanie Robinson, and Rosa Dunn.”  

After completing an intensive 5-hour virtual audit, the SVHEC’s NCCER workgroup received official notice on April 12, 2023, that the agency had earned accreditation.  

Simon-Owens stated that “achieving NCCER designation as an Accredited Training Sponsor in conjunction with having 13 NCCER certified craft instructors and two Master Trainers on staff positions the agency to continue with its current welding and HVAC-R training offerings as well as expand into other employer-driven, in-demand construction and maintenance disciplines, i.e., industrial maintenance mechanic, electricity, instrumentation, and electronics. NCCER accreditation aligns with and compliments the SVHEC’s workforce capabilities and offerings including being customizable to meet employer needs.”   

SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty Adams shared, “The NCCER auditor was enthusiastic in noting multiple SVHEC procedures she described as ‘best practices.’ This is truly a full circle moment.”  

For more information about SVHEC Workforce Training programs visit or email .