New initiative to fill a skills gap in NC

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina keeps growing with people and businesses alike, which has benefited the state’s economy.

But there’s a problem attached to that growth and businesses’ needs: a skills gap.

“It’s going to be increasingly necessary for North Carolinians to have education credentials beyond high school to be successful in the workforce and in life,” explained Peter Hans, the co-chair of My Future NC.

Hans, also the president of the North Carolina Community College System, alongside several higher education administrators, business leaders, and state politicians rolled out a new initiative to get North Carolina better educated.

My Future NC Commission hopes to tackle the skills gap.

According to the commission’s research, currently 1.3 million North Carolinians between 25 to 44-years-old have degrees or certifications in highly trained fields.

Wednesday, the commission set a goal to get that number to 2 million by 2030.

“The state that gets this—the state that can provide the people to work in those jobs is going to be the state that gets ahead,” Governor Roy Cooper said, after adding his full support behind the education initiative.

Co-chair Dale Jenkins believes in the project, and told CBS 17 Wednesday’s rollout is step one to making sure nearly half a million people in the state aren’t left behind in the workforce.

“Quite frankly, it is not the way it use to be 20 or 30 years when you might could find meaningful employment, make a decent wage if you don’t have those degrees so I think we have to give people a dose of reality,” Dale Jenkins, CEO of Medical Mutual Holdings. “I think our job is to provide equal opportunity.”

When asked about the funding for this effort, the co-chairs weren’t clear yet on where the money would come from, but they believe the bi-partisan support points to possible state funding– alongside private funding.

By 2020,  My Future NC found that 67 percent of North Carolina jobs will require a degree or certificate.

To tackle that challenge, the commission will focus on four areas: 
1. education and workforce alignment
2. access to lifelong educational opportunities
3. preparation for education, career, and life
4. comprehensive support systems

“We need to have a goal for where our students go after they graduate from high school and we can be the best state for post-secondary attainment. Getting students on their career pathways will make us the best place to learn,” said Mark Johnson, North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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