Chamber's Latest Power Series Luncheon Highlights State's New NCWorks Program
By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director
GREENVILLE—The N.C. Community College System’s (NCCCS) efforts to prepare a skilled workforce and grow the state’s economy were the focus of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce’s Power Luncheon Series this week.
The luncheon, which took place May 20 at the Hilton Greenville, featured Maureen Little, NCCCS Vice President for Customized Training, discussing North Carolina’s new NCWorks initiative, which calls for a consistent, cohesive strategy for workforce development statewide.
NCWorks, Little explained, is ultimately about connecting employers offering well-paying jobs with workers possessing the skills to perform them. “It’s an opportunity for the workforce development system to better align itself to better serve North Carolina’s business and industry …,” she said.
Little said a workforce development team will visit 10 businesses in each of the state’s 100 counties later this year, in order to assess training needs and evaluate workforce skills. She noted that in Pitt County, Pitt Community College is already well aligned with its local workforce development board and North Carolina Career Center.
During her presentation, Little pointed out that a skilled workforce is essential for attracting new business and industry that will grow the state’s economy. She said companies searching for places to locate have consistently stressed the need for skilled workers.
“They want confidence that North Carolina can deliver a well-skilled, well-trained workforce,” she said.
Little said North Carolina community colleges give the Tar Heel State a key advantage over other locations by offering customized training. She said those services range “from pigs to plastic [products]” – meaning they vary from one county to the next, depending on demand – and are a tremendous selling point with prospective business and industry.
Mary Paramore, PCC Director of Business and Industrial Services, said this week’s luncheon put a spotlight on customized training’s role in developing the North Carolina economy. She said it also offered local business leaders valuable insight on PCC services and the evolving NCWorks program.
“PCC connects with local industry – existing and expanding, and even those that are looking into the possibility of locating here – and looks to see what kind of training solutions we can provide (them),” Paramore said.
Through NCWorks, Paramore said, PCC will continue to provide customized training to Pitt County business and industry and even expand services. The program, she said, will help ensure the college is meeting local training and credentialing needs and allow it to be more responsive to clients and customers.
“Instead of everybody helping industry a little bit, we’ll be able to greatly increase the power that we put together [through NCWorks],” Paramore said. “It’s like pooling our spending power together and really being able to make a difference in our local industry.”
PCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Tom Gould also addressed those attending this week’s luncheon and encouraged them to make good use of the college’s educational services.
“Whatever the training may be, we adapt to the needs of business and industry in Pitt County,” he said. “… Our success is determined by your success. And our mutual success is what’s going to make Pitt County a success in the future.”
Gould said that within the past five years, PCC has carried out 17 customized training projects that brought a total of $1.2 million to Pitt County. The training, he said, helped three of the companies earn International Organization for Standardization certification and 15 workers earn Lean Six Sigma green belts.
“If you notice, (PCC’s) mission is ‘educating and empowering people for success,’” Gould said. “That’s very purposeful. It’s not ‘students’ for success, it’s ‘people.’ And those people (represent) business and industry in Pitt County.”