Community colleges engage with local employers to fill skill gaps in the communities they serve. Last week, two North Carolina community colleges held ribbon cutting ceremonies for new workforce training facilities that will help meet industry demands in the Hoke, Moore, and Duplin counties.
On Tuesday, October 19, Sandhills Community College celebrated the Breakthrough Construction Center located in Carthage. The center is specifically designed to teach plumbing, HVAC, and construction classes.
In April 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded Sandhills Community College $680,000 through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to build and help equip a 3,600-square-foot multi-disciplinary center with three classrooms, two labs, and an open training space at the Larry Caddell Training Center in Carthage.
Golden LEAF funding leveraged approximately $500,000 in funding from the William L. and Josephine B. Weiss Family Foundation, the Palmer Foundation, Peterson Funds from the Sandhills Community College Foundation, the American Red Cross, and Sandhills Community College Workforce Development Funds.
Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton cut the ribbon at the event.
“The availability of a skilled workforce is a critical component of a community’s economic strategy,” said Hamilton. “The Golden LEAF Foundation is pleased to be able to help move the economic needle by increasing the available pipeline of skilled construction trade workers for employers in Moore and Hoke Counties.”
According to surveys of area employers, there are 740 current construction-related job openings in the region and a critical shortage of construction workers. Programs at the Breakthrough Construction Center will offer short-term workforce training that can lead to quality jobs. Area high school students will also participate in the construction trades programs through Career and Technical Education (CTE) and dual enrollment through Career and College Promise. So far, the College reports 90 students enrolled in courses underway this fall.
On Thursday, October 21, James Sprunt Community College celebrated its new nursing education center, named the Hoffler Building.
In April 2021, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $200,000 to James Sprunt Community College through the Open Grants Program to purchase simulation and technology equipment for its new nursing facility and nursing programs. The high-tech virtual reality and simulation manikins will help prepare nursing students to be ready for patients and medical scenarios.
Golden LEAF funds leverage $4.48 million from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Connect NC Bond. Prior to these awards, the college did not have adequate space or equipment to outfit the instructional labs to maximize learning opportunities that will prepare students for work in today’s clinical settings.
The project will assist the college with improving its nursing program completion rates and first-time pass rate for licensure exams. The program plans to have 48 Nursing Program students completing a curriculum course annually.
Community colleges work with local employers’ needs to create workforce training programs that align with those skill gaps. These two programs are a direct result of employer needs in the areas they serve.