According to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), more than 1,400 short-term, occupational skill training courses are offered across the state to train, retrain, and upgrade workers for current or future job skill requirements or certifications. There are also many nonprofits in the state that support workforce development opportunities.
Under Golden LEAF’s strategic plan, the Board of Directors has prioritized improving workforce preparedness in rural, economically distressed, and tobacco-dependent communities.
Golden LEAF funds workforce preparedness projects that help close the skills gap and increase the pool of highly qualified individuals with skills aligned to North Carolina businesses’ current and future needs. These projects demonstrate a market demand for skilled workers and aim at developing skill sets required by businesses looking to locate or expand in rural communities.
In order to measure the success of a workforce preparedness project, Golden LEAF tracks outcomes including students completing curriculum programs or continuing education courses or programs; students earning at least one industry/third party certification, license, or other credential; students completing Career and Technical Education pathways; students participating in work-based learning; and students receiving meaningful exposure and opportunities to explore local career opportunities. Golden LEAF also tracks narrative outcomes including students employed, incumbent workers trained, employer input and feedback, and survey results.
Read about some of the successful projects under the funding priority of workforce preparedness:
The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $200,000 through the Open Grants Program to assist Cleveland Community College in establishing a Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) training program that complements and leverages the college’s CDL program. This program not only trains students for HEO license, but also allows HEO requirement completers to be tested by Cleveland Community College’s commercial truck driver license examiners. Golden LEAF funding was used for equipment and a portion of the cost of equipment storage, road tractors, and trailers. Several pieces of this project’s equipment are also used in the truck driver training program. Training supplies are also used in both programs to maximize efficiency.
Six employers in the region served by Cleveland Community College indicated the need for at least 160 new HEO job openings over the next five years. Currently, the college has an average class size of eight students but are working to grow it to 12-14 per class. Twelve students have completed the HEO program, with another eight expected to complete the program in June 2022.
The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $200,000 through the Open Grants Program to assist Beaufort County Community College (BCCC) in establishing a boat building and manufacturing program to serve the local boat building industry. Beaufort County has nine boat building companies. These companies have expressed the need for a trained and knowledgeable workforce for existing and future job openings. The curriculum provides training in wooden hull construction; composite hull construction; and electrical, plumbing and engine installation. This program works with a boat building training program offered through Beaufort County Schools. Golden LEAF funds were used for equipment and initial personnel costs. Currently, nine students are enrolled in the two year program.