Writer: Alejandro Sanchez
2 min read September 2021— Skilled labor shortages continue to be a nationwide challenge that has been exacerbated by the reopening of the national economy. Through innovative partnerships and collaborations with the private sector, higher education institutions in Raleigh-Durham are now focusing on training and retooling adult learners as a way to mitigate this issue.
According to a recent article from The Hill, Americans who lacked the professional skills to work with technology were more likely to lose their jobs, or significantly limit their careers in an increasingly virtual environment. A recent survey conducted by the North Carolina Department of Commerce revealed that about 60% of companies in the state’s STEAM sector struggled to find qualified personnel to cover well-paying local jobs.
As a response to this lack of qualified labor, five community colleges in North Carolina partnered to launch Better Skills, Better Jobs, a state-wide campaign to encourage adult learners to acquire credentials in innovative professional fields. With key partners that include Inside Track and the North Carolina Community College System, the campaign aims to encourage a population between the ages of 25 to 44 with some college experience to re-enroll by using incentives like financial aid and professional counseling.
“We need to help understand and remove barriers to re-enrollment and college completion for individuals whose studies were disrupted by the pandemic—and for the thousands of other North Carolinians seeking to advance in their careers,” said Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College, in a recent statement.
Another initiative focused on retraining adult learners is the North Carolina Workforce Credentials, a program focused on raising awareness about existing non-degree credentials in a variety of fields with well-paying jobs available.
“We’ve found that 67% of jobs in North Carolina are projected to require a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030. If you look at fields like IT, cybersecurity, healthcare, plumbing, and welding, these are high-paying jobs for which credentials can be obtained within weeks or months. We feel very strongly that in the area of short-term credentials, we can help individuals change careers or position their current career for advancement,” said Thomas Stith III, president of the North Carolina Community College System, during an interview with Invest:.
Today, higher education institutions are looking to design their programs in conjunction with the private sector to guarantee a synergy between the training they offer and the skills needed by the market, particularly now that the region is attracting new business from around the country.
This will be one of the many topics of discussion on the “Innovation Overload: Exploring how new ideas and innovation are influencing education and the Triangle’s economy”at the Invest: Raleigh-Durham Launch Conference on Thursday, Sept. 16. The panel will be moderated by Research Triangle Park VP of Strategic Engagement Ray Trapp, and the panelists include Thomas A. Stith III, president of North Carolina Community College System; Chuck Morrison, CEO of INVZBL; and Shawn Sowers, higher education practice leader & senior associate of LS3P.
To register for the event, click here!