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PCC Receives Grant to Start Logging Course

RALEIGH—The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center announced last month that Pitt Community College has been awarded a $50,000-grant to standardize a curriculum for individuals seeking employment in the logging industry.

On Nov. 16, the center’s board of directors approved 62 grants worth a total of $9.6 million in an effort to create new jobs, increase job placements for laid-off workers, and provide clean water in rural counties. The grants, which were made possible through funding from the N.C. General Assembly and other entities, are expected to create 1,211 jobs and assist projects that benefit 51 counties.

PCC’s Community Mobilization grant will allow the college to develop a 12-week course that teaches students how to operate heavy equipment utilized by the logging industry. The 480-hour course will combine online instruction with hands-on training and result in certification from the N.C. Loggers Association as well as an OSHA Safety Certificate for those who complete it.

“Right now, new employees of the logging industry in North Carolina receive on-the-job training,” said Dr. David Lusk, PCC’s Dean of Continuing Education. “The logging industry wanted a curriculum that includes instruction on sophisticated machinery, so new employees can come to a job site ready to work and operate equipment properly.”

Those who take the course will be required to complete Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) testing, which determines a potential employee’s literacy, numeracy and problem-solving ability. Essentially, the CRC provides job-seekers with evidence of their workplace skills.

Lusk said Pitt would be offering three sessions of the logging course in 2012 through its Continuing Education Division. He said the online instruction would involve videos that could eventually be distributed to other community colleges in the state that want to offer the logging course.

Caterpillar, Lusk said, is donating $1.25 million worth of equipment to be used during the course’s field training component. He added that Greenville’s Gregory-Poole Equipment Company will provide maintenance for that machinery.

According to an N.C. Rural Economic Development Center press release, the Community Mobilization program that is funding development of PCC’s new logging course supports projects that connect unemployed and underemployed workers to full-time jobs. The projects are expected to result in 385 job placements.

The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.