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A skilled and educated workforce is the cornerstone of a strong, healthy economy.

Empowering North Carolinians through excellent education is essential to securing a skilled talent pipeline and achieving a competitive, diverse, and world-class workforce.

Every job creator and every employer in North Carolina recognizes the urgency for aligning education and training systems with business needs.

In today’s competitive global marketplace, where North Carolina competes for top talent with economies around the world, we must do more to strengthen our workforce and fill the talent pipeline.

The Challenge

More than half of North Carolinians ages 25-44, and even more from underserved areas, have only a high school degree. As our economy grows, jobs will require high-quality credentials or post-secondary degrees.

North Carolina needs to ensure that two million North Carolinians hold a post-secondary degree or credential of value by 2030.

According to a Deloitte study, in the manufacturing industry alone, “[T]he skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion.” The Society for Human Resources Management reported that in the past 12 months, 83% of HR professionals had trouble finding qualified candidates for open jobs.

A strong talent pipeline is not only necessary to retaining businesses that have chosen NC as their home, but also recruiting new businesses that will enhance our economic competitiveness and improve quality of life for our state’s citizens. Urgent, sustainable action is needed to ensure students are adeptly prepared for the careers of tomorrow, and that our current workforce has the opportunity to reskill and/or pivot to acclimate to new business needs. And with COVID-19 impacting education delivery statewide, it’s critical that we address any learning deficiencies resulting from the pandemic with evidence-based pedagogic approaches.

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The Solution

The NC Chamber is committed to championing legislation that will advance education continuity, address learning loss caused by COVID-19, and assess the individual academic needs of every student.

The NC Chamber advocates for a comprehensive approach to education policy and works on issues ranging from early childhood education and K-12 public schools to community college and university education, as well as workplace learning initiatives like apprenticeships. Two of the top priorities identified by our Workforce Readiness Committee are increasing 3rd grade reading proficiency and increasing career relevance in high school classrooms.

We strive to better align education systems with the needs of our modern workforce because we know the skills gap—or the lack of workers with the right skills, talent, and experience for open positions—is a top concern for our members. Through initiatives like the NC Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Academy, we are fighting to strengthen North Carolina’s talent pipeline and solve the skills gap.

Strategic initiatives such as the TPM Academy are essential for securing a skilled talent pipeline, empowering North Carolinians with rewarding careers, and attracting companies to invest in our great state. The graduates of the first NC TPM Academy (2019) are local leaders from chambers of commerce, workforce and economic development boards, business, and education who are now establishing employer-led collaboratives to improve talent pipelines in sectors that include manufacturing, health care, construction, life sciences, and software development.

The NC Chamber Foundation sponsored seven North Carolinians who attended the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s virtual TPM Academy (2020 and 2021). After graduating, these TPM facilitators will join the 16 TPM practitioners who participated in the 2019 NC TPM Academy.

Read more about the Talent Pipeline Management Academy

The Agenda

  • Learn more about the NC Chamber’s plans to advance these issues in the 2021 Legislative Agenda.
  • Explore our Education & Workforce Conference, which brings together leaders in education, business, government, and nonprofit to discuss collaborative approaches to workforce development and education attainment and alignment.
  • Read about Talent Pipeline Management  — an employer-driven, regionally focused program created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation that aligns classroom with career.