Rocky Mount Opportunities Industrialized Center, Inc. (OIC) is helping build the Nash and Edgecombe workforce through its enhanced Integrated Training Academy for people with barriers to employment.
The OIC offers high quality skill development opportunities that enable economically-disadvantaged and unemployed people of all backgrounds to become more fulfilled.
“We work with young adults and adults at risk for unemployment due to poor work history, including criminal backgrounds, by training them for high quality employment opportunities,” said Charles Washington, OIC Director of Education and Training. “We provide wrap-around services including educational and integrated medical health. We also partner with organizations for other needs such as Legal Aid.”
The Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded Rocky Mount OIC $275,000 through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to help expand the training programs offered to at-risk individuals ages 16-35 in the areas of health occupations, advanced manufacturing, and transportation and construction trades.
The program is providing industries access to a larger pool of career-ready individuals in Edgecombe and Nash counties. Washington reports that from July 2020-June 2021, 124 students successfully completed certificate programs, 135 students earned an industry-recognized third-party credential, and 78 students gained employment in their field of study.
“We work really hard to get students employed, quickly,” said Washington. “We offer a two week course in transportation and highway construction because the students want to be trained and into a job as fast as possible. They obtain several industry credentials in the two-week course they can transfer as they advance in the field.”
Washington said the students work on both soft and hard skills to be ready for interviews.
“We provide mock-interviews to make sure students know how to answer questions and to help them show their knowledge,” said Washington. “Our students in the transportation and highway construction program leave with extra knowledge other applicants do not have such as how to use rebar. We added that to our program because local employers said it is a skill they need.”
Students who participate in OIC’s training programs have extra support as they enter the workplace.
“We check in on our program completers to see how their job is going,” said Washington. “Our students also reach out to us if there is a problem. We strive to help them leave OIC with marketable skills and in meaningful employment with a place they can reach back out to if needed for employment support.”
Many students choose to take classes through OIC because of the learning environment.
“Students often comment on the class size, assistance with barriers outside of the classroom, and instructor’s individualized instruction as reasons they choose OIC,” said Washington. “Many have heard from friends and family about the level of support we offer. Also, our programs have a very high pass rate on credentials and licenses because of the dedicated attention to our students.”
OIC offers both in the classroom and hands-on training components.
“We have employers come out and work with our students on small engine repair and forklift training,” said Washington. “It provides the students the opportunity to see how employers work with their employees and gives the employers a chance to provide feedback to the students.”
OIC says the partnerships are a big reason their programs work so well for their students and local employers. Rocky Mount Engine Plant, Barnhill Construction, S.T. Wooten, Fred Smith and many other local employers provide their program completers with an opportunity to interview.
“We teach our students to be self-sufficient,” said Washington. “We have students who have come through our programs and are at their jobs for ten years. We have students who come back to get new skills to go to the next level. Our goal is to help all who come to us to be successful employees.”Priority Area Program Area Project Description