WGU North Carolina was proud to be a sponsor of the NC Chamber’s Education & Workforce Conference on August 20. We are the local affiliate of Western Governors University, an accredited, nonprofit online university created in 1997 by a bipartisan group of governors specifically to fill open jobs in the fields of IT, healthcare, business and K-12 education.
While North Carolina has a solid reputation as a business-friendly state, we will soon face a deficit of qualified workers. Our job growth is on track to outstrip population growth by 2024, and if businesses can’t find the qualified employees they need, they will take those jobs elsewhere.
Importing talent is not the solution; we must do a better job of educating our population by providing affordable and flexible educational programs that provide a viable talent pipeline for in-demand jobs.
Dr. Rebecca Tippett of Carolina Demography found that about one of every five high school seniors will complete a four-year degree in six years, and only 15% will do so at a UNC System school. That means that 80% of high school graduates will not be able to reap the benefits of a university degree by age 24.
Consider also that in North Carolina, there are 645,000 early- and mid-career adults aged 25 to 54 with some college credit but no degree. For a variety of reasons (cost, geography, time, family, etc.), they are not able to return to school fulltime to earn a bachelor’s degree and potentially advance their career.
WGU North Carolina has been working with numerous North Carolina community colleges to create seamless pathways for their graduates to pursue bachelor’s degrees through WGU without needing to repeat coursework for credits that did not transfer. Likewise, we’ve been meeting with employers to develop partnerships that will help upskill, educate and keep their talented employees.
Through a combination of affordable tuition, scholarships, tuition assistance, financial aid and responsible borrowing initiatives, many working adults are able to go back to school and earn their degrees. In doing so, they are setting themselves up for career and financial success in the North Carolina economy of today and tomorrow.