North Carolina puts the “community” in community colleges
Building trades students from Fayetteville Technical Community College assist Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity with construction of a house during fall semester 2019. Construction students spend up to 18 hours a week building a home during the school year.
North Carolina’s community college system is frequently hailed as one of the most comprehensive in the country. Based on the number of colleges, the system is the third-largest in the nation and tends to specialize in career-readiness.
Speaking to community colleges throughout the state, one frequently hears about a passionate focus on working with area businesses to train students to match their specific needs. Creating a stable and highly qualified workforce is the goal for many of the institutions of higher education in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Community College System had more than 680,000 students in academic year 2017-18, according to its Raleigh-based office. The system estimates 40% of the current workforce received training at a community college in the last 10 years.
Working with existing industries to offer up-to-date training in areas of need has contributed to our state’s solid economy.
Wake Technical Community College’s Research Triangle Park Campus offers specializations in cybersecurity, business analytics, project management, network management and other lucrative industries.
“Innovation fuels the RTP Campus,” Wake Tech President Scott Ralls says. “It is strategically positioned to meet the workforce training needs of the community that surrounds it.”
Edgecombe Community College is analyzing local workforce needs to offer the latest educational opportunities in advanced manufacturing specifically. Their new Center for Innovation on the Tarboro campus opened for classes in January and will focus on the manufacturing industry. Additionally, Blue Ridge Community College works specifically with industries in Henderson and Transylvania counties to develop programming.
Another industry integral to the state’s economy is aviation, which compelled Guilford Technical Community College to open a 242,000-square-foot Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Greensboro and launch an expansive aviation training program in 2018.
Community colleges are a draw for students of all ages. Many work with older students as they look to start a new career. Lenoir Community College’s Quick Jobs program provides students with the training to work in less than six months in the areas of energy distribution systems technologies, electrical wiring, heating, ventilations, air conditioning, certified production technician, transportation operations management, truck driver training (CDL Class A) and welding. Some colleges also offer free classes to high school students.
Fayetteville Technical Community College caters to transitioning soldiers. Transition Tech is its no-cost educational program for veterans, providing credentials in various occupations to help them succeed in the civilian workforce. FTCC is also home of the All American Veterans Center, which is staffed by veterans and offers a number of specialized services and educational counseling for veterans.
Hands-on training is the draw for many interested in community colleges. Several of the state’s colleges work with local businesses to offer students the opportunity to train in real time. Pitt Community College’s simulation hospital, which opened in January 2019, allows students in multiple health-sciences tracks to work together as they would in a real hospital, all while instructors watch from a control room to provide further direction.
In the following pages, you’ll find more examples of the tremendous impact our community colleges are having on local communities. Their ability to train the next generation and the work they do to ensure students find job placement within the state are vital.
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