Employers will collaborate with local community colleges to build talent pipelines
RALEIGH – The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges (NCSBCC) in its planned meeting today approved an allocation of up to $11.6 million from the State Fiscal Recovery Funds to establish a temporary program to expand apprenticeship opportunities for high school and non-high school apprentices. The program will serve students ages 16 to 25. Funding goals are to increase the percentage of North Carolinians, particularly within underserved populations, who are pursuing and easily accessing education or training through North Carolina’s Great 58 community colleges and to ensure the educational pipeline prepares a workforce that possesses the interest, knowledge, skills, and abilities to meet the needs of employers, now and into the future. Following North Carolina’s 2020 Development Tier Designation, 50 of the 58 colleges, serving Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, are eligible.
The funding will provide opportunities for small businesses located in Tier 1 and 2 counties to build talent pipelines by bringing on new apprentices between the ages of 16 and 25 in high demand trades or careers while working with 50 of the Great 58 community colleges to provide related classroom instruction. Employers with qualifying apprentices will receive up to $2,000 per apprentice for onboarding and training, plus a 50% salary reimbursement on wages up to $15 per hour for non-high school students and $14 per hour for high school students. In addition, colleges will receive up to $2,500 per apprentice for tuition, books, fees, and supplies. The target date on the release of funds is July 1, 2022. Funds are available through Dec. 31, 2024, until expended. Registered Apprenticeships have expanded statewide since joining the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) in 2017.
Also as part of the meeting, the State Board received a presentation about the increased number of mental health issues in students that community colleges are handling due to the pandemic. A panel discussion that included two college presidents including Dr. Gene Smith from Brunswick Community College, Dr. Rachel Desmarais and Cathy Davis from Vance-Granville Community College, and Dr. James Kelley with the System Office informed the Board regarding best practices for supporting students. The report comes at a critical time as community colleges continue to address the toll the pandemic has taken on students who are juggling work and family matters while trying to pursue higher education. In 2021, the State Board took action to address the increase in mental health issues among students by partnering with the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents’ Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training Project to train 135 instructors, who are now equipped to train faculty, staff, and students on mental health awareness as they continue their mission of student success.
The State Board also heard plans for the System Office to coordinate Community College Day on June 8. The event will bring together community college presidents and stakeholders from around the state to visit with legislative leaders and continue sharing the importance of the NCCCS three-year legislative plan and the great value that community colleges provide to their local communities and in fueling the state’s economy by meeting workforce demands.
The State Board approved the appointment of Dr. William Aiken to the position of interim president for Randolph Community College. Dr. Robert Shackleford Jr., who has served as president of Randolph since January 1, 2007, will retire on July 1, 2022. Aiken will serve as interim until a new president is selected.
The State Board also approved the new hire of an associate legal counsel, David Werner. Werner has been a licensed attorney for almost 10 years. He has worked primarily in our state’s highest courts on a wide range of matters, researching the law, drafting opinions, and providing information and consultation to the jurists. For the past year, Werner has worked in the Consumer Protection Division of the N.C. Department of Justice.
Following the meeting, State Board members and other stakeholders participated in the System Office’s Employee Appreciation Event held on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh. The event was made possible through private funds.