College, Schools, Industries Tackle Workforce Challenges Together
June 1, 2021 - Representatives from Richmond Community College, Richmond County Schools, Scotland County Schools and local industries recently met to discuss challenges industries face with today's workforce. This was a follow-up meeting from a group session held in January 2020 prior to COVID, as school and industry leaders work to come up with solutions.
These annual meetings are part of RichmondCC’s Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, which is required to be eligible for federal Perkins funds for Career and Technical Education programs.
"We wanted to bring all the right parties to the conversation to identify ways we can better prepare our young people to have long-lasting employment with our local industries and businesses," said Dr. Devon Hall, Dean of Applied Sciences and Engineering at RichmondCC. "Having the right skills and right knowledge for a job is important, but it is also important for people to understand expectations that employers have of their employees."
One of the major challenges identified was lack of information about jobs and opportunities available at local industries. Industry personnel said there is a misconception about “mill work” that has been passed down by generations. It was suggested local industries open their doors in various ways to the public, from open houses to field trips for middle school age students and tours for local teachers and counselors.
"As more people visit these state-of-the art facilities, they will see for themselves the advancements that have been made in manufacturing," said Hall.
Other possible solutions included internships for students to gain work experience and earn wages while still in high school.
All groups agreed that the pandemic has created additional challenges with work ethic and accountability.
"We know we are facing a difficult work environment today, which is why we wanted to start working on solutions and strategies to make sure our students have the best opportunity to be contributing members of the local workforce," Hall said. "We look forward to the next meeting with all of these groups and continuing this discussion."