It’s no secret that the education system doesn’t really give students real-world jobs skills. Add to that the challenge of transitioning from 12-16 years as a student to a life with a different set of rules and expectations. What most employers want is someone with experience who can hit the ground running, a quality most recent grads lack.
Brittany Sands’ problem as a recent grad was not unique. She graduated from Campbell University with a Bachelor’s in Clinical Research. Unable to land a job in her field, she took a cashier job at CVS. While researching internships, she came across the Backpacks-to-Briefcases program. As a participant, she learned how to improve her resume, interview skills, and presentation skills. Everything learned was put into practice at a job fair organized specifically for participants. There, Brittany was offered a paid internship by Premier Research where she received valuable work experience while the program paid her wages. When the internship ended, she was hired full-time as a Procurement Strategic Sourcing Specialist.
Backpacks-to-Briefcases was first created in 2012 as a CAWD youth program. It was designed specifically to give college graduates the right combination of knowledge, skills, and practical experience to enter the job market, while mitigating training expenses employers. Eighty-six participants were placed at that time. In 2015, it was expanded as Backpacks-2-Briefcases 2.0 in partnership with NC State University, CAWD, and a $386,000 grant by Duke Energy Foundation.
Workforce development programs like Backpacks-to-Briefcases are indicative of the innovative solutions such collaborations can achieve. Participants like Brittany get a foot in the door in order to begin good careers and businesses find people with the skills they need.
To learn more about the program, contact the Capital Area Youth & Young Adult Center at
TechHire is for individuals aged 17-29 looking to go into information technology and cyber security careers. These are high-skill / high-demand occupations with established career pathways. In North Carolina, Computer User Support Specialist enjoy a median wage of $46,670. From there one can become a Computer Network Support Specialist ($57,970), Network and Computer Systems Administrator ($75,130), and Computer Network Architect ($100,800).
With additional training and experience, the pathway can lead to Computer and Information Systems Manager (NC Median Wage $124,420), Computer Systems Analyst ($84,640), and Information Security Analyst ($86,180).
Those interested should visit TriangleTechHire.com and complete the contact form to learn more.
Capital Area Workforce Development Board (CAWD) and Wake Technical Community College will share a $3.9 million dollar grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to train 350 young adults with barriers to employment for IT jobs in cyber security, network and computer systems administration, and computer user support.
“One of the things we hear from employers is that job candidates often have certification after certification, but no practical experience. So being able to partner with employers who will provide onsite work experience is a vital part of this training,” said Pat Sturdivant, Executive Director of Capital Area Workforce Development Board.
Anthony Caison, Vice President of Workforce Continuing Education at Wake Tech agrees. “Collaborations like this don’t occur everywhere. We are thrilled to be working with Capital Area and all the other partners who came together for this grant, including Wake County Economic Development and the City of Raleigh. Together we can strengthen the local economy by filling jobs that pay well and help young people attain skills necessary to be competitive job candidates.”
Wake Tech is the lead grant recipient with CAWD receiving approximately half of the grant to fund work experience, on-the-job training and support services for trainees. The program, known as “TechHire,” is one of several grants that Capital Area and Wake Tech have partnered on to prepare people for jobs.
HCL, SAS, and IBM are business partners for the program. Companies interested in becoming partners can contact CAWD.
Pat Sturdivant, Executive Director for the Capital Area Workforce Development Board, has been appointed to serve on the Wake County Task Force on Employment and Wage Issues for Women. The task force was formed by the Wake County Board of Commissioners after the Wake County Commission for Women published the State of Employment for Women Report this past February.
Research in the report reveals that in 2014, although education levels were the same, the median earnings for women over the age of 25 was $34,809, whereas men in the same category earned $50,137. The disparity becomes more pronounced as the education level of women increases. Women with less than a high school diploma earn approximately 67% of what their male counterparts earn (an income difference of about $6,000/yr), while women with graduate degrees earn approximately 56% of what their male counterparts earn (an income difference of approximately $56,000/yr).
“I’m excited about the work of this task force. Capital Area has been involved with several projects over the years to help smaller, special populations find employment, such as people with disabilities and ex-offenders. But women make up 50% of our workforce. If we can improve wages and other career obstacles they face, the economic impact to their household and the county could be quite substantial,” said Pat Sturdivant.
Steps 2 Success (S2S) is a collaboration between Wake County Government and CAWD to prepare underserved populations for job opportunities with the county. Cohort #1 is currently receiving onsite work experience with various county departments including Human Services and the animal shelter. After the program, S2S trainees have a leg up on the competition for job vacancies.
S2S is an example of Wake County leaders taking bold steps and setting the example for giving individuals a chance to build great careers. A second cohort will begin in the coming months!
Pictured are 3 trainees (standing R to L) and their instructors.
Soft skills are the intangible personal qualities that employers want in workers; dependability, work ethic, positive attitude, flexibility, team-oriented, and able to work under pressure. Now job candidates can prove they have the soft skills employers desire most.
Working Smart, a 16-lesson soft skills curriculum taught over a minimum of 24 hours. Participants receive certificates only after they demonstrate competency using self-awareness, self-management, communication, and problem-solving skills. They must also demonstrate aptitude in work ethic.
The first class begins May 9th at the NCWorks Career Center at Tillery Place in Raleigh. Participants must register online at NCWorks.gov and attend all sessions.
Capital Area Workforce Development and WRAL partner each year to connect employers from throughout the WRAL viewing area with job seekers. Many other job fairs tend to have more non-employers, but this expo targets businesses with job vacancies. The event will be held August 4th from 10-2 at the McKimmon Center on the campus of NC State.
Job seekers and employers can find full details and registration information, including career fair advice and employer lists, at Capitalareaexpo.com.
Sponsorships are available.
The Capital Area Workforce Development Board is developing a 4-yr strategic plan that satisfies requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). It will outline strategies for coordinating workforce programs and services for Wake and Johnston counties for 2016-2020. The public is invited to provide input and recommendations to assist in the design of the plan.
Email recommendations to CAWD@wakegov.com with the subject line “WIOA Plan-Public Input” by 5 pm on Thursday, April 24, 2017.
Here they are! Employers in these industries can’t find enough people to do the work! Find out if you’re a good fit. See one of our job counselors today.
The NCWorks Career Center in Clayton is “official” now! Several guests and partners witnesses the center’s grand opening on March 11th, including Capital Area Workforce Development Chair Susan Jackson of BCBS and Clayton Chamber of Commerce Jim Godfrey. Will Collins, Director of NCWorks at NC Dept of Commerce and Secretary of Commerce Jim Skvarla were guest speakers.
Career center staff did a wonderful job putting on a great event. Job seekers and employers are encouraged to visit the center anytime.