Guiding policies for a 21st century workforce
Workforce development is one of the building blocks of rural economic prosperity. The center defines workforce development broadly, encompassing child care, transportation and health insurance -- all critical to working families -- as well as education from the earliest years on through adult technical training, entrepreneurship skills building and career guidance.
New Generation Careers
New Generation Careers encourages young adults to develop careers close to home while engaging rural businesses to cultivate local talent. Communities receive grants of up to $100,000 to develop employer-driven training and other workforce services that create jobs for rural young adults, ages 18 to 30.
Each community's project includes a job-placement component and addresses at least one of these priority areas:
- Correcting skills shortages and mismatches
- Retaining and attracting top talent
- Improving the employability of young adults
- Increasing business productivity through a tech-savvy workforce
- Charting career paths in rural regions
Grants for the 18-month projects were awarded in June 2012. Read the news release.
Rural Community Mobilization Project
The Rural Community Mobilization Project helps connect laid-off and underemployed workers to full-time jobs. Grants encourage community organizations to collaborate on workforce development strategies.
The project takes a distinctive approach in two key ways:
- It puts control in the hands of local leaders, who know the challenges and resources in their communities. This allows them to recognize and fill gaps in services.
- It connects job-creation efforts and workforce-development initiatives with local businesses. The goal is to increase the likelihood that training or other services will lead to new employment.
Under the project, community teams have trained workers for high-demand fields such as health-care and education. Others have initiated internships, held job expos or provided support services for the unemployed. The makeup of project teams can vary, but typically feature human-service organizations, community colleges, economic development agencies and workforce development agencies.
Read more about the successes of community mobilization projects.
Demand-driven workforce development
The center is investigating ways to ensure that North Carolina’s workforce development programs are preparing workers for jobs with actual employment potential.
Whether it’s called demand-driven workforce development or sector-based job training, tightening the connection between training and employer needs pays off for workers. Public/Private Ventures, a national nonprofit working to improve low-income communities, recently concluded a randomized study of job training programs for underskilled and unemployed workers. It found that over the course of two years workers involved in demand-driven workforce training programs earned about $4,500, or 18 percent, more than comparable workers not engaged in such programs. Program participants also were more likely to find employment, receive benefits and stay in the workforce.
The Rural Center launched its own investigation in 2008 when it commissioned a survey to determine the prevalence of demand-drive workforce strategies in North Carolina and to place these within the broader context of workforce trends and policies. The technical report includes descriptions of 13 promising examples of demand-driving training.
Currently, the center is working to integrate demand-driven workforce development into several of its programs. For example, in the Rural Community Mobilization Project, grant recipient Pitt Community College is addressing a local shortage of paramedics by providing emergency medical training to dislocated workers. In addition, the center’s job-creating grant programs are stepping up efforts to provide private employers with information on available job-training programs.
Anne Bacon, Senior Director, Workforce Development Office
N.C. Rural Economic Development Center
4021 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610