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Golden LEAF Foundation, Person County allocate $200,000 to support workforce pipeline

Published Tuesday, September 10, 2019
by Elizabeth Townsend

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In response to Person County’s workforce development needs and goals, Piedmont Community College (PCC), Person County Schools (PCS), and the Person County Economic Development Commission (EDC) have partnered to create a 6-14 Workforce Pipeline Plan. This plan will create a pipeline of skilled workers for existing and prospective industries, beginning in 6th grade and following students through high school and post-secondary education.

Person County has provided $200,000 for the support of the 6-14 Workforce Pipeline Plan, which will assist with the cost of staffing, training, equipment, and other necessary components to implement and sustain the overall plan.

The specific areas of focus for this project, to ensure long-term viability of the local workforce, include:
• Advanced Manufacturing
• Technology
• Entrepreneurship
• Agriculture
• Trades

The funds used for this program originate from a grant awarded by the Golden LEAF Foundation to Person County in 2010. That grant was made to support the expansion of Eaton Corporation in Person County. Person County originally used the grant funds to purchase equipment that it leased to Eaton. Now Person County is using the proceeds from that lease for this workforce training initiative.

“Golden LEAF is glad to see that Person County is using these funds to create additional economic opportunity,” said Ted Lord, Acting President of the Golden LEAF Foundation. “The need for trained, qualified workers is one of the consistent challenges we see in rural North Carolina, and this initiative will help address that challenge.”

This project was rolled out on July 1 with the goal of:
1) Increasing the number of students participating in internships, co-ops, apprenticeships, and shadowing experiences by 5% from baseline in years one and two.
2) Increasing the number of students with an awareness of opportunities within targeted industries in Person County by 5% from baseline in years one and two.
3) Integrating targeted industry curriculum into formal coursework, with increase of student enrollment by 5% from baseline in years one and two.
4) Increasing student awareness by 10% from pre to post course about opportunities in targeted industries.
5) Increasing the number of teachers/faculty members able to prepare students in target identified areas.

“I am extremely excited about the partnership formed between Person County Schools and Piedmont Community College in meeting the challenge of providing a pathway to develop a highly skilled workforce in Person County,” shared County Commissioner and Chairman of Economic Development Commission, Gordon Powell. “The concept is to train students in areas such as advanced manufacturing or other modern technology that will enhance their employability potential right here in Person County.”

He went on to say, “I am grateful for the support of Golden LEAF in assisting us in this endeavor which will ensure our young people are prepared for future jobs in the county. The training program is aggressive, innovative, and a shining example of how cooperative partnerships benefit our county and region for years to come. As a County Commissioner and Chairman of EDC, I feel the county is moving in the right direction to focus attention on future economic growth by developing a well-trained workforce for both existing and potential business and industry.”

To accomplish these goals, the $200,000 will be used to:
• Hire a Work Based Learning Coordinator to secure internships, externships, co-ops, apprenticeships, and shadowing experiences for students enrolled in course work related to targeted industry areas.
• Develop a marketing campaign to highlight career opportunities that are available locally.
• Integrate learning tools available from Oracle, Apple, Google, Red Hat, and SAS into computer programming courses available through PCC and purchase related equipment and supplies.
• Begin career exploration course with incoming 6th graders focusing on targeted industries beginning in 2019-2020 school year and purchase related equipment and supplies.
• Provide professional development training for PCS teachers, and for PCC faculty in respective career focused courses.

“It is significant to be working with the Golden LEAF Foundation, Person County Economic Development Commission, and Person County Schools as we become more forward thinking when it comes to education at all levels,” states PCC President Dr. Pamela G. Senegal. “This includes guiding middle school students through early career exploration and offering the tools to move their vision of what could be into a viable option for their future.”

Senegal continued by noting that those already in college, preparing to enter the workforce, will benefit from Work Based Learning opportunities. “When you consider how individuals gain work experience, including valuable soft skills, it is clear the best option is on the job training. Making these hands-on learning encounters available in all programs of study, as well as offering the latest technology, provides an advantage when these students are job seeking after graduation.”

“Our overall goal is to ensure that students in our community are aware of the opportunities that await them, as well as to provide a pathway that will lead them to success.

Photo: Dr. Barbara Buchanan, Chief Academic Officer, Piedmont Community College; Judy Bradsher, Career and Technical Education Director, Person County Schools; Dr. Rodney Peterson, Superintendent, Person County Schools

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