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PCC Hosts Align4NCWorks Learning Summit

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

PCC Director of Business and Industry Mary Paramore talks about the college's success in teaming with its NCWorks partners to help ASMO and Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC, find skilled workers.


WINTERVILLE—The N.C. Community College System’s (NCCCS) effort to prepare a skilled workforce that will grow the state’s economy was the focus of a meeting at Pitt Community College last week.

On Thursday, PCC hosted an Align4NC Works Workforce Learning Summit in the Craig F. Goess Student Center – the 20th of 22 summits scheduled to take place at community colleges throughout North Carolina this year. The program was organized as part of Gov. Pat McCrory’s NCWorks initiative to reduce unemployment in the state by developing a workforce with the skills needed to meet employer demands.

Align4NCWorks is the community college system’s strategic initiative to improve best practices in collaborative workforce development. It emphasizes key partnerships with business and industry, public schools, local workforce entities and economic development.

“The goal (of Align4NCWorks) is to ensure North Carolina has the number one workforce in the United States,” N.C. Community Colleges President Scott Ralls said Thursday. “… The purpose of today’s summit is to learn from you, the experts.”

In attendance for last week’s summit at PCC were State Board of Community Colleges member Scott Shook, Pitt County Schools Superintendent Ethan Lenker, and administrators and staff from community colleges in Pitt, Beaufort and Martin counties. A number of local business leaders were also on hand, along with representatives from local government, area economic development agencies, BioNetwork and East Carolina University.

“Workforce development is a team sport …,” Ralls said, adding that it works best when all parts of the team work together.

As the first step in the Align4NCWorks process, NCCCS has turned to the state’s 58 community colleges and their local partners to spotlight workforce innovations and discuss challenges. The summits began in February and will continue through Oct. 15. When they have concluded, personnel from the N.C. Community College System Office in Raleigh will discuss their findings with the State Board of Community Colleges.

“I’m pleased that these programs are going on across the state,” said PCC President G. Dennis Massey. “There are a lot of good ideas and differences being shared to pick and choose from.”

During Thursday’s summit, PCC Director of Business and Industry Mary Paramore noted Pitt’s success with pre-hire training. She illustrated the achievement by discussing the college’s efforts to bring skilled workers to Greenville’s ASMO facility and Farmville’s Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC.

Paramore said that by meeting with leaders from each company early on, the college and its NCWorks partners were able to assess training needs and suggest PCC services to meet them. Through Career Readiness Certificate assessments, she said they targeted pre-hire classes in coordination with the NCWorks Career Center.

Ultimately, Paramore said, helping ASMO and Natural Blend identify potential employees who were ready to go to work immediately saved the companies time and money in finding qualified workers.

Mestek Plant Manager Emerson Hobgood further emphasized the importance of PCC’s customized training services. He told those who attended Thursday’s summit that the Farmville-based manufacturer didn’t utilize what PCC had to offer for many years and, as a result, had difficulty simply finding employees who “just wanted to get up and go to work every day.”

By teaming with Pitt in recent years, Hobgood said Mestek now has a pool of workers it can draw from to fill positions immediately.

“We really appreciate having a resource and asset like Pitt Community College,” Hobgood said. “We went way too long without using it.”

In addition to summits, the NCWorks initiative also involves the “1,000 in 100” project, which officially began Sept. 25.

Through that effort, Gov. McCrory and workforce development personnel from the state plan to visit 10 businesses in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties over the course of 100 days in order to assess training needs and evaluate workforce skills. In short, it’s a chance for representatives from North Carolina business and industry to talk and state workforce professionals to listen, as one, in order to develop solutions.