N.C. Ranks No. 1 Regionally in Workforce Development

RALEIGH, N.C. -- For the second year in a row, North Carolina ranks first in the Atlantic region for workforce development, according to a study by Site Selection magazine. Site Selection’s second annual state workforce development rankings “provide a general sense of which states in a given region are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment,” the magazine says.

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The full Atlantic region rankings, in descending order, are:

1. North Carolina
2. Georgia
3. South Carolina
4. Virginia
5. Florida
6. West Virginia
7. Delaware
8. Maryland

“We’re proud that North Carolina is ranked No. 1 in the eight-state Atlantic Region for its investment in a skilled workforce and creating employment opportunities for its citizens,” said Will Collins, executive director of NCWorks. In 2013, North Carolina's job training efforts were consolidated under NCWorks, which offers an online portal connecting employers with job seekers as well as education and training opportunities.

Site Selection’s workforce development rankings do not factor in success rates of specific state worker training programs, incentives or other tools. Instead, they are based on three equally weighted factors that can be applied to all 50 states:

* State funding expenditures for workforce preparation and development, as a percentage of total economic development expenditures, according to the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness.

* The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness component of Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

* A state’s total ACT National Career Readiness Certificates among people aged 18 to 65.

North Carolina has a fast-growing population, which has made it the ninth-largest state in the nation. That growing labor pool has access to world-class education and training. More than 380,000 students are seeking degrees at 41 colleges and universities. In addition, the state's widespread, 58-campus community college system is a national model for workforce training customized to an employer's needs.

MetLife, for example, utilized partnerships with educational institutions to help fill more than 2,600 jobs it created in North Carolina after the company's 2013 announcement it was establishing major hubs in Charlotte and Cary.

"Just in Cary alone it's been in excess of 1,300 people," said Geoff Lang, vice president and general manager of global technology and operations in Cary, in October 2015. "Ninety percent of those folks are brand new to MetLife."

"We have been able to do great work on partnerships with the universities: N.C. State, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC A&T, UNC-Charlotte, Duke University, Wake Technical Community College. We have a great partnership with Wake Tech on education, and it makes my job so incredibly easy when I'm hiring people and I'm looking for how can I get the right skills."

Site Selection’s article about its latest rankings stresses that companies are increasingly adding  “competency-based credentials" to academic degrees and diplomas as factors to consider when assessing the availability of skilled workers for immediate and future needs.

North Carolina companies large and small  have access to state-supported programs that help their employees earn such credentials. For example, Hi-Wire Brewing of Asheville recently received approximately $11,000 from NCWorks' Incumbent Worker Training Grant program to train and certify three workers in brewing technology, packaging and process technology, quality control, programmable logic controllers, and stainless welding, according to a governor's press release.

“The NCWorks program has allowed us to attract and retain talent, and our employees have demonstrated that our commitment to them is a two-way street and that they are top-notch at what they do for us,” said Adam Charnack, co-founder of Hi-Wire Brewing.

The NCWorks Incumbent Worker Training Grant program helps reimburse participating employers for their training costs. During the first quarter of 2016, 30 North Carolina companies received $207,598 to train 438 workers. The incumbent worker training grant program is one of several NCWorks services available to businesses, including talent recruitment, on-the-job training, tax credits and apprenticeship programs.