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You Can Help Business and Education Work Better Together to Close NC’s Skills Gap

Our members across all industries know that thriving businesses need talented workers that can meet the sophisticated skill requirements of jobs in the modern workforce – if they hope to continue to thrive, that is. With a growing skills gap contributing to a worldwide shortage of these talented workers, however, North Carolina’s business community must keep getting better at communicating our changing needs to education leaders, and vice versa, if we hope to stay ahead of this global issue and remain a leading place in the world to do business. Fortunately, business and education leaders across our state are getting a strong head start on our competition. Recently, NC Chamber Policy Development Manager Cassi Zumbiel visited one of the many places where North Carolina industry is working directly with education to begin closing our state’s skills gap: Vernon-Malone College and Career Academy.

Located in Wake County, Vernon-Malone College and Career Academy provides an excellent model for how North Carolina’s business and education leaders can better meet each other’s needs through collaborative efforts. Through scholarships and apprenticeship programs, the school is successfully preparing Wake County high school students for future careers in cutting-edge fields, including Applied Engineering, Surveying & Mapping, Biopharmaceuticals, Collision Repair, Cosmetology, Multi-Trades Technology, Nurse Aid, Simulation & Game Development, and Welding. All of these are fields that will remain in high demand as advancing technology continues to alter the skills needed for the future economy. And educators at Vernon-Malone, and at many similar programs across North Carolina, are constantly on the look-out for opportunities to partner with business leaders.

We constantly hear from members who are interested in getting involved to close our state’s skills gap, but who aren’t quite sure how. The Wake County Public School System is hosting a career event, Great Xplorations, for approximately 700 ninth-graders on Tuesday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to noon. They are seeking volunteers who are available to lead small groups of students in networking rotations, demonstrating the importance of networking and making a great first impression. Volunteers will be asked to give a brief introduction, and then allow the 5-6 students in each group to briefly introduce themselves, after which a new group of students will rotate in. If you are interested in this opportunity to work directly with North Carolina’s students we encourage you to register here by Tuesday, Nov. 1. About 60 volunteers are needed, so please pass the invitation along to others in your network who might also be interested in this unique chance to engage with their future workforce.

The NC Chamber and NC Chamber Foundation will continue to prioritize efforts to get our state’s leaders working closer together on solutions to close our skills gap. As we do so, we will continue to highlight schools and educational programs in our state where collaboration is having a positive impact. If you are interested in learning more about Vernon-Malone College and Career Academy, or if you would like to let us know about an effort to close the skills gap that you think deserves highlighting, contact Cassi Zumbiel.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber