First-Ever ‘Better Skills, Better Jobs’ Job Fair Accomplishes Mission

Dr. Johnny Smith speaks from the podium during a luncheon that took place during the "Better Skills, Better Jobs" job fair.


WINTERVILLE—Organizers of last month’s “Better Skills, Better Jobs” job fair say the inaugural event accomplished its mission of increasing awareness of local career and educational opportunities and fostering engagement between employers and prospective workers.

More than 600 adult jobseekers and Pitt County high school students came out to the Greenville Convention Center Oct. 26 for the fair, which was the result of a collaboration between Pitt Community College, the John M. Belk Endowment, Greenville ENC Alliance and Pitt County Economic Development. On hand to speak with attendees about employment options and resources available to prepare for those jobs was a combination of nearly 100 representatives from area business and industry and various community partners.

“Workforce is the number one challenge for business and industry; it is a big issue,” said David Horn, Greenville ENC Alliance Director of Investor and Community Relations. “Addressing big issues often requires big ideas – and the ‘Better Skills, Better Jobs’ Fair was just that.”

Dr. Johnny Smith, PCC vice president of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement, helped organize the fair and said it was a perfect example of what can be accomplished when leaders from local government, education and business work together.

“Thank you to the event sponsors, community partners, employers, resource participants, career seekers, and state and local government representatives who helped make the fair a huge success,” Smith said. “I can’t say enough good things about the support that fair organizers received from East Carolina University, Pitt County Schools and many others who stepped up and contributed their time and energy toward the good of our community.”

Smith said the fair’s morning session saw 171 Pitt County juniors and seniors file through the convention center to receive job information and details on how to begin working toward a college degree while still in high school through such programs as Career & College Promise and the PCC-Pitt County Schools Technical Academy. He said 440 adult jobseekers came out for the afternoon portion of the fair, many of whom were able to interview with local employers onsite, during the event.

A luncheon that took place between the two sessions focused on adult learners and the large population of Pitt County residents who have completed some higher education but have no academic credentials.

“Pitt County has nearly 39,000 adults who have some college training but no degrees, diplomas or certificates,” Smith said. “We want them to come back to school to finished what they started to improve their career mobility prospects and their chances of landing jobs that offer sustainable wages.

“When we say better skills mean better jobs, we’re referring to individuals in the local workforce who are underemployed and could exchange their current jobs for careers,” he continued. “Through additional higher education, these adult learners could skill up, retool or retrain — either to advance in their current careers or to change careers entirely.”

Pitt County Economic Development Director Kelly Andrews said the job fair demonstrated that local leaders realize the significance of developing a skilled workforce and connecting it to jobs with area businesses and industries. The “Better Skills, Better Jobs” job fair, she said, was a forum for making that connection.