SANFORD — Changing economic times and workforce education needs demand innovation, flexibility, and responsiveness — and Central Carolina Community College is providing these.
The college has created a Division of Economic & Community Development to bring together departments that provide a wide range of support and training services: Industry Services, Workforce Development, Basic Skills, Continuing Education, Small Business Center, Emergency Services Training Center, Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, and Enrollment Management.
Industry, businesses, communities and individuals are major beneficiaries of these changes as comprehensive workforce training is provided through a collaboration of these departments, said Stelfanie Williams, vice president over the new division.
The division also works together when a company has a massive layoff or closing. Through collaborative efforts, the division provides rapid response employee sessions. The workers are provided information on Workforce Investment Act (WIA) benefits and training programs at the college, as well as being assisted by the Enrollment Management Department.
“This is ‘one-stop shopping’,” she said. “These departments are now working together more closely than ever. We can meet the needs of workers, employers and communities because we’re covering all bases in workforce training.”
The various departments within the new division, and their functions, are:
• Industry Services
Industry Services, funded by the North Carolina Community College System’s Economic & Workforce Development Division, provides specialized workforce training specific to the requesting industry.
“Tough economic times have made our industry workforce training programs even more attractive to local industry,” said Cathy Swindell, the college’s Industry Services director. “While industry training budgets have been reallocated to payroll and materials costs, the need to train employees is even more critical than before if these industries are to survive.”
Swindell said her office has seen a sharp increase in requests for training in welding, maintenance, machining and other technical skills, as well as in courses such as leadership, Lean, and safety. For example, as “baby boomer” machining employees retire, some companies relocate operations to decrease transportation and quality costs. Two have come to Lee County from other states for that reason.
Industry Services can’t meet all of industries’ needs with its state funding because there are very specific requirements for use of the funds. That is why the close cooperation of the various departments in the Division is so important.
• Workforce Development
Central Carolina has been selected as the administrative entity for local Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, the first North Carolina community college to have this responsibility. The board oversees nearly $2 million of WIA funding for workforce training in Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Sampson counties. Industry Services will administer the Incumbent Workforce Development Program (WDP), a fund through WIA specifically intended for training industries’ incumbent workers.
Through WIA, grant funding is provided to local agencies, such as employment security commissions, to fund workforce training for disadvantaged or dislocated adults and youth. Most of these clients attend the local community college for job training. At Central Carolina C.C., the classes are taught through Industry Services, Basic Skills, Continuing Education, or curriculum vocational programs. They are held at the workplace or at the college’s campuses, centers and other community sites, as well as online.
• Basic Skills/Adult Education
Workers need good basic education skills. Basic Skills offers high school or GED diplomas as well as English literacy. The Compensatory Education program works with developmentally challenged adults, enabling many to be employed in sheltered workshops that have contracts with businesses and industries.
• Continuing Education
Continuing Education offers a wide array of short-term workforce training programs at the college or industry sites that enable people to quickly learn job-related skills. Distance Education offers access to thousands of continuing education classes through Ed2Go.
Hiring and retaining workers with needed reading, math and technical skills is an important concern of business and industry. Continuing Education provides important tools including professional development, retraining, employability skills such as interviewing and resume writing, and Career Readiness Certification (CRC).
The CRC is based on the WorkKeys industry skills assessments that certify workers’ or potential employees’ skills in reading, math and locating information. The CRC saves employers time and costs by enabling them to hire workers with the skill levels needed. The assessments also pinpoint skills a worker possesses or lacks, so training can be provided.
• Small Business Center
The Small Business Center, with offices in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties, works with would-be entrepreneurs or existing small businesses. Its highly skilled personnel provide training in the creation, maintenance and growth of small businesses, which provide most of the jobs in the economy. Even in a recession, it can offer ways to make businesses leaner while positioning themselves for growth as the economy recovers.
• Emergency Services Training Center
Communities, business and industry in the college’s service area and beyond depend on the Emergency Services Training Center, a regional facility operated by Central Carolina Community College. It provides quality training not only for community first responders but also for businesses and industries whose workforces include emergency services personnel.
Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center
The Civic Center, with a variety of meeting and conference rooms, auditorium, and exhibition hall, is increasingly used by business and industry for workforce, staff development and leadership training seminars.
• Enrollment Management
The Enrollment Management Department works closely with workers-in-training and other students so they continue their academic or vocational education. Not only the individual, but also the communities, businesses and industry benefits because the foundation of success is — and always will be — a well-educated workforce, Williams said.
For more information about the services of Central Carolina Community College’s Division of Economic & Community Development, contact Stelfanie Williams, (919) 718-7254, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org