NC’s economy relies on connecting workers, employers – that’s focus of new initiative at NC State


RALEIGH – Eyes are on North Carolina’s labor market as concerns about an economic slowdown or a coming recession persistence. And a new program seeks to strengthen the state’s local workforce development boards and drive engagement that will benefit North Carolina’s economy for years to come.

With thousands of technology, manufacturing, warehousing, and life science jobs coming to the state’s economy in the coming years, workforce development initiatives may remain important to the state.

That’s because North Carolina saw a record year of economic development in 2021 and the state’s economic development efforts are off to a roaring start of 2022 with nearly 19,000 jobs and more than $8.2 billion in investment already announced this year, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Yet in recent weeks, there’s been an observable slowdown of job openings, as reported in the most recent WRAL TechWire Jobs Reports. Still, there’s a bright spot in the state’s economy, the most recent IT Jobs Report from the North Carolina Technology Association, NC TECH, shows: technology and IT roles.

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Introducing the NC Workforce Development Leadership Initiative

In this context, a new initiative will launch later this year.

“Our state will benefit when we have more leaders who are well-versed in the connections between building a job-ready workforce, meeting employers’ talent needs and growing our economy,” said Tom Rabon, chair of the NCWorks Commission, a partner in the new initiative, in a statement shared with WRAL TechWire today.

The North Carolina Workforce Development Leadership Initiative, an intensive, six-month professional training program, will begin in October 2022.

Throughout the curriculum, cohort members will take four courses and participate in a peer-learning community led by North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI).

The initiative is supported by multiple units within North Carolina State University, including IEI, and the Municipal Research Lab led by Bruce McDonald, Ph.D., where the initiative will be housed within the university.

Other partners and collaborators include the NCWorks Commission and the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards, and support for the initiative is provided by the US Economic Development Administration.

“Strengthening our workforce is essential to continuing our economic success, as North Carolina’s ‘First in Talent’ plan emphasizes,” said North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, in a statement.

“In keeping with our state’s tradition of collaboration and leadership in talent development, the innovative North Carolina Workforce Development Leadership Initiative will provide a diverse group of professionals from various backgrounds with the knowledge they need to move their communities forward,” said Secretary Sanders, who is also a member of the NCWorks Commission, in the statement.

Last year, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released a strategic economic development plan, First in Talent.

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