Before the pandemic, North Carolina’s employers, across industry sectors, struggled with hiring workers who had the certifications or training matching the jobs in demand. COVID-19 widened the skills gap and narrowed talent pipelines. Baby Boomers retired at a faster rate than expected for various reasons including successful savings plans and rising home value. Parents, mainly mothers, left the workforce due to childcare demands – and they haven’t returned. Across the state and country, lack of affordable and available childcare and health concerns continue to prevent people from returning to work. Additionally, employees are leaving jobs for new careers that promise flexible schedules, remote work options, and better life/work balances for improved mental health.
An educated and skilled workforce is not only essential to retaining businesses that have chosen North Carolina as their home, but also recruiting new businesses that will sharpen our economic competitiveness and improve quality of life for North Carolinians. Addressing workforce shortages and filling talent pipelines with employees trained for the jobs in demand will secure the state’s competitive advantage in economic development and new business creation. Alignment between our business and education communities is essential to preparing students, of all ages, for the careers of tomorrow. Responding to employers’ urgent workforce needs and focusing on the state’s future talent supply, the NC Chamber Foundation will launch the business-driven Institute for Workforce Competitiveness (March 2022).