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Workforce Revival in NC: Forsyth County’s Paramedic Pipeline

For this workforce success story, the NC Chamber spoke to Taylor Hutchins, a graduate of the NC Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Academy. Taylor incorporated the employer-focused TPM program into her workforce development strategy in Forsyth County, NC. This area of Winston-Salem was in need of paramedics, and Taylor’s team at the Forsyth County Department of Community & Economic Development partnered with Forsyth County’s Department of Emergency Services and Forsyth Tech to put TPM into action.

TPM model uses supply chain principles to align classroom with career.

To propel regional collaboration between job creators, community colleges, and workforce groups, the NC Chamber Foundation and U.S. Chamber Foundation offer the TPM Academy. Participants of the academy are employers, education providers, local chambers, business associations, and economic development groups. They utilize the TPM model, a method that places an employer’s talent needs front and center when addressing workforce challenges. This demand and data-driven approach is designed to close skill gaps across state and sectors using supply chain principles.

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Collaboration with community colleges is key.

To strengthen the paramedic pipeline in Forsyth County, Forsyth Tech offers a two-year degree, Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Science, that leads to the paramedic occupation. Additionally, in Fall 2021, the community college launched its Emergency Medical Science – Paramedic Certificate Program that is condensed into a 12–14-month schedule. Understanding the benefits of “earn while you learn,” Forsyth Tech developed an Emergency Medical Science Apprenticeship in conjunction with its LEAP program (sponsored by the college). This opportunity provides current emergency medical technicians the ability to work while completing the education requirements to become paramedics.

Successful TPM strategy is data-driven and future-focused.

Taylor shared that new recruitment strategies are being implemented into Forsyth Tech’s EMS programs, engaging students who have been waitlisted for the Nursing Program to invite them to consider an alternate career path of paramedics. After analyzing the market in Forsyth County, her internal HR department adjusted pay rates and shifted scheduling of paramedics to be more competitive with their local medical institutions.

In addition to examining the data, successful TPM strategy is future-focused in attracting the next generation of workers. The Forsyth County Workforce & Economic Development team is joining forces with local high schools to promote careers in EMS to students and advance enrollment in EMT coursework.

As paramedic pipeline initiatives expand across the county, medical institutions including Wake (Atrium) will participate in the apprenticeship model and further the curriculum advisory efforts.

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