Workforce Training Initiatives Give Boost to Region’s Underemployed

In June of 2012, PNC Bank provided $175,000 in grants for two workplace development programs in the Twin Counties. Two years later, the programs are making progress in training the region’s unemployed with workplace skills most needed by employers in the region.

“As the economy has changed, it is more important than ever that the business community partners with the education community to ensure we have a skilled workforce available to help our companies succeed and grow,” said Paula Fryland, PNC regional president.  “These collaborative partnerships allow residents of the Twin Counties to gain the skills needed for current and future jobs right here in our region.”

Nash Community College (NCC) developed the “Workplace Skill-Up Project”, which has helped more than 150 local citizens gain a Career Readiness Certification, achieved through a customized series of modules training the students on the skills they require in reading, writing and math.  Participants work through the modules at their own pace in open lab environments.

The program allows undercredentialed, underemployed, and unemployed citizens to gain work-ready certifications in a much shorter term than a college degree.  A random sampling of participants showed an average test score improvement of 50 percent between the pre-assessment and the end of the semester.

“The PNC grant has allowed NCC to better meet the needs of the community by providing valuable resources and support,” Nash Community College Vice President for Instruction and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Trent Mohrbutter shared. “Participants in the Work Place Skill-Up program have built technical reading, writing, and math skills, received career and academic counseling, and have been able to attain a Career Readiness Certificate. The results have been very positive as many of the participants have found employment and others have continued on with their education at NCC.”

Turning Point Workforce Development Board (Turning Point WDB), is finalizing plans to pilot a “Workforce Simulation Lab”, a facility that will simulate workplace settings to teach employer-preferred skill sets for hard-to-employ citizens in the area. Turning Point WDB has collaborated with Edgecombe Community College, NCC, Rocky Mount Edgecombe Community Development Corporation and several major employers in the area to develop the lab’s training curriculum and functionality which will primarily focus on the region’s three leading job sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Allied Health and Professional Office / Call Center.

Turning Point WDB is completing facility renovations, with an official lab unveiling planned for December. Training in the Allied Health profession is set to begin in August, and Advanced Manufacturing in spring of 2015.  It will also be available for local employers to use as a training center for process improvement and recruitment.

“The collaboration of these local institutions and employers to create and support this training program demonstrates our region’s ability to work together to provide hope to those who have been hopeless in finding employment with their current skills,” said Michael Williams, director of Turning Point WDB.

NCC’s Workplace Skill-Up program takes place on Nash Community College’s campus at 522 North Old Carriage Rd.  Turning Point WDB’s Workforce Simulation Lab is located at the Edgecombe County Business/Industrial Incubator at 110 Fountain Industrial Park. Both programs are free to residents of Nash and Edgecombe Counties. Interested citizens can learn more or enroll by contacting Nash Community College’s Continuing Education department at 252-451-8246; and Turning Point WDB at 252-443-6175.

Separately, PNC’s talent development organization called PNC University has also partnered with NCC to create a continuing education course called “Introduction to the Financial Services Industry“, to train participants in skills required for jobs available with PNC in the area.  Upon completion of the course, each student is offered an interview with PNC for the respective role, typically teller, lockbox specialist, or collections specialist.