Since 2004, 24 North Carolina community colleges have received nearly $14 million in grant money from a Duke Energy program that supports training in manufacturing and related industries. Two of those colleges, Gaston College and Randolph Community College, recognized the tremendous contributions of both the Duke Energy Community and Technical College grant program and Duke Energy's ongoing support at their colleges by nominating them for the Distinguished Partners in Excellence Award. Having two colleges in partnership with one corporate supporter is a first for this award, which recognizes the teamwork among businesses and our colleges, as well as the key roles those partnerships play in developing and strengthening North Carolina's workforce.
The impact of the Duke Energy program is evident at both colleges. At Randolph, it created a mobile industrial automation classroom and supported the purchase of welding equipment for a state-of-the-art welding training center. At Gaston, the Duke Energy support paid for high-tech, sophisticated industrial equipment that provides cutting-edge training for students. The total investment at these two colleges represents nearly $1 million.
Additionally, Gaston College has been working with Duke Energy on the creation of a nuclear technology program for the last three years. The program, being implemented this academic year, is preparing graduates to enter the workforce as nuclear technicians, a field desperate for an infusion of new talent as 46 percent of this skilled workforce may retire or move to other careers by 2015.
These Distinguished Partners in Excellence – Duke Energy, Gaston College and Randolph Community College – represent the best in public-private collaborations: identifying workforce needs, defining and building programs to address those needs, offering technical assistance, providing financial support and ultimately, delivering a well-trained, high-quality workforce that leads to an improved quality of life for North Carolinians. It is truly partnership in its highest form.