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Workforce Revival in NC: Summer Careers Academy (Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County)

Young construction worker smiling

For this edition of our Workforce Revival in NC series, we explore a new regional workforce development program: the Summer Careers Academy launching Summer 2022 in Orange County, North Carolina.

The Summer Careers Academy was inspired by a regional talent supply study.

In 2020, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro conducted a study to examine why Orange County faced a skilled trades worker shortage. Key findings from the report identify construction as the top trade in demand. Yet, the area provides limited training for these jobs. Raising awareness for this industry’s rewarding income and projected growth was essential for filling its talent pool. To secure a skilled talent pipeline in construction, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber and a coalition of educators, employers, and governmental officials decided to engage high school students in a regional workforce development program: the Summer Careers Academy.

Tools gained via the NC Chamber Foundation’s TPM Academy assisted in education and employer collaboration. 

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber Vice President of External Affairs Katie Loovis is a graduate of the NC Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Academy. Utilizing insight that she gained through the TPM Academy, Katie recognized the need to create a collaborative coalition of educational institutions, employer groups, and governmental agencies to begin building talent pipelines of high school students for Orange County’s future construction workforce. This coalition developed the Summer Careers Academy, launching Summer 2022, to connect Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County youth with in-classroom training, a paid summer work experience, and a pathway to rewarding job opportunities in the skilled trades.

The Summer Careers Academy coalition is led by a steering committee that will align with the Business Advisory Council and support the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Orange County Schools Boards of Education in offering career and technical education instruction, activities, and services. The steering committee hopes to expand the Summer Careers Academy after Summer 2022 to continue training local youth in the skilled construction trades as well as in other industries.

The first (and free) Summer Careers Academy will be an eight week registered youth apprenticeship program with 10 or more local high school students. The training, assessment, certification, and career development standards will come from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core construction curriculum, which prepares students for jobs in the construction trades, including careers in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC-R repair.

Students who successfully complete the Summer Careers Academy will achieve college and career readiness. 

Summer Careers Academy graduates will receive:

  • Construction Core high school credit and a NCCER Certificate
  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration Fundamentals for Construction Certificate (OSHA 10-Hour Construction Industry Certification)
  • College scholarships and prior learning credit towards the college-level skilled trades apprenticeship program at Durham Technical Community College and/or other community colleges in the region
  • Career readiness for immediate full-time employment as well as eligible for entry into a Registered Apprenticeship, which allows students to continue to earn and learn as they progress in their chosen career.

The Summer Careers Academy is funded by a public grant and private donation. The NC Education and Workforce Innovation Commission, which manages the Education and Workforce Innovation Program with administrative support from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, awarded the public grant through a competitive process. The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust (Kenan Charitable Trust), a private foundation committed to improving lives particularly in underserved communities, provided the private donation.