All posts by Brenda Wilkerson

IBM Selects CAWD for Project Re-Ignite

CAWD was one of 10 organizations in the nation selected by IBM as a partner for their Re-Ignite initiative. The goal of Re-Ignite is to minimize the impacts of the pandemic by speeding up the recovery of local workforces, communities and economies. We were selected because we have a firm grasp off the region’s workforce/economic development ecosystem and have an existing focus on vulnerable communities.

One element of Re-Ignite is SkillsBuild, a platform IBM created to equip job seekers with professional skills needed in a digital world. It acquaints users with new ways of working such as Agile and Design Thinking. It also introduces them to new technologies such as AI and Blockchain.  As a service to businesses, companies can receive individualized support to address key business challenges, opportunities and strategies for development of
re-launch plans.

CAWD hopes to incorporate IBM’s SkillsBuild platform into service offerings at the career centers in August. Re-Ignite and SkillsBuild have the ability to produce a long-lasting impact in the Triangle.

Housing for Reentry Clients

Without adequate housing, it is almost impossible for anyone to find and sustain employment. It’s especially hard for those leaving incarceration and have little outside support.

CAWD will use $100,900 from House Wake! for emergency and transition housing for reentry clients. Housing is the top need for 90% of men and women being served through our Roads to Reentry program and the Wake LRC.

Roads to Reentry has enrolled 54 individuals and the Wake LRC has served 49 since CAWD took over in February. Partners can refer reentry clients at

Our Response to Covid-19: How Workforce Boards Are Making a Difference During the Pandemic


A Letter to the Community

Just as we have been getting used to a new normal for our lives in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequities, and the tragic deaths of several individuals in recent weeks have all contributed a firestorm of protests that have brought injustice and racism to the forefront and compelled us to confront the racism in our society.

The North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards (NCAWDB), through our network of NCWorks Career Centers, is committed to providing all residents with the career services, resources and support needed to achieve economic prosperity. This includes support such as tuition assistance for credential attainment, work experience opportunities and employment assistance, along with supportive services that help to remove barriers to employment.  Workforce Boards work with thousands of employers to connect them with the skilled talent they need.

At our core are the following values:

  • We value the voices, experiences, cultures, intellect and multidimensionality of all people;
  • We value the ability of individuals and support system change in ways that make racial justice possible;
  • We value diversity and believe that equity and inclusion make us stronger;
  • We value honest, open and clear communications, and voicing and sharing our viewpoints with integrity even when difficult, unpopular, or risky;
  • We value relevance and resourcefulness in the face of changing social, economic, political, and ideological environments; AND
  • We will continue our work in making our services and programs accessible and open to all individuals, especially communities that have been traditionally underserved.

From education, skills training, work experience, and employment, local workforce development boards are dedicated to assisting individuals in gaining the skills needed to obtain employment that allows them to provide and thrive.

While so many elements of the future remain uncertain, in collaboration with our leadership, local Workforce Development Board members, and Directors, NCAWDB will continue to support a workforce system that is inclusive and continue to advocate for all residents.

Media Contact: Dr. Stephanie Deese
Executive Director, NCAWDB


About North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards (NCAWDB)

NCAWDB is a 501(c)6 and the voice for workforce development in North Carolina. We work collectively to plan, coordinate, oversee, and deliver workforce solutions through the NCWorks system. Our Boards help more people and businesses across the state gain access to programs and services that make North Carolina one of the most skilled, productive, and motivated workforce systems in the nation.

CAWD Launches “Reopen Wake” COVID-10 Training

Health and Safety Training Grant Helps Small Businesses Reopen Safely

Raleigh, NC, July 7, 2020Capital Area Workforce Development (CAWD) has launched Reopen Wake to support the reopening efforts of minority and women-owned businesses and businesses located in Wake County’s vulnerable communities.  Eligible businesses will be able to provide employees with health and safety training to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as employees return to work and operations resume.

“Small businesses often have insufficient financing and limited internal capacities which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Business owners of color, women founders and other underrepresented minorities often have an even greater need. We’re glad to be able to provide this program to help businesses and their employees better prepare to operate safely in the current environment,” said Pat Sturdivant, Executive Director at CAWD.

This interactive online training addresses topics such as how to protect staff from workplace outbreaks, facilities setup and best practices for safely bringing employees back to work. Employees will also learn best practices for personal health and safety.

Funds for Reopen Wake were provided by Wake County Government.

More information including eligibility requirements and the application is available here.


“Reopen Wake” Covid-19 Employee Training

Reopen Wake is a two-module, online training that will help employers prepare team members to return to work using appropriate precautions. CAWD is pleased to offer this training at no-cost to eligible Wake County businesses. This program specifically connects businesses in Wake County’s vulnerable communities with necessary funding and training that will get employers and their staff back to work safely and confidently.

Businesses can find more information and apply HERE.

Business Input Needed for Regional Skills Analysis

The region was on pace for incredible growth and development prior to COVID-19. While it might take time to regain that momentum, the Regional Skills Analysis can help us get on track as it’s important to understand the subtle nuances of our workforce.

As workforce leaders, we your participation. This survey is not a study that will be put on the shelf. It will inform programming necessary for recovery and a quality talent pipeline.

If you are a business leader, please take the Regional Skills Analysis 2020 survey or forward to your HR/site lead for completion. We want to hear from all industries and businesses of all sizes!


Local sponsors of Regional Skills Analysis 2020 are RTI, Wake County Economic Development, Capital Area Workforce Development and the City of Raleigh.

Unemployment Claims by County Now Available in North Carolina

The NC Department of Commerce published a dashboard to view unemployment insurance (UI) claims by local area. Users can search by county, workforce development board or see cumulative data for the state. In the press release, Commerce noted that not all claims will be eligible for benefit payments.

CAWD will be summarizing and distributing monthly updates about initial claims to city and county leadership in Wake and Johnston counties.

Here is the March summary for our service area. Ninety percent (90%) of claims were Wake residents. As expected, the hospitality industry shed the most jobs. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many who have lost jobs during COVID-19 plan on returning to their employers. However, CAWD is preparing career centers for an influx of people who will seek new opportunities and may need job training.

The dashboard also allows users to see existing claims data, industries where claimants were employed,  and claimant demographics.

Access the dashboard here.

All New Youth Advisory Councils

CAWD has formed all new youth advisory councils. Each county we serve will have their own council. The mission of each council is to promote a continuum of services for youth and young adults by supporting comprehensive, integrated models of educational, developmental, and employment-related services.

The focus is an education-to-career system where every young person can

  • Graduate form high school
  • Engage in work experiences
  • Obtain a post-secondary credential
  • Secure living wage work.

A unique aspect of the councils is the inclusion of leaders from across the county that work with young people, including K12, community colleges, juvenile justice, social services, and community-based organizations.

County-wide strategies will be developed to improve the success rate of youth entering well-paying, sustainable careers.

Business Outreach and Support

WARN notices filed with the state as of April 8th reflect 825 workers have been affected by layoffs or business closures in Wake county. The majority of those, based on the type of business, were likely due to COVID-19. (No Johnston county businesses were listed.)

This number is actually far greater since many businesses aren’t required to file a notice. However, additional businesses have been identified by the business engagement team as at-risk or already taking steps to layoff. Outreach is underway to provide support, including online Rapid Response sessions to share resources and information with employees.

Business that are still hiring despite the current climate continue to be supported, including Bland Landscaping, AAFlanders, and Amazon. The career center hosted five information sessions for Amazon that were attended by over 300 job seekers. There were also four new hire orientations that resulted in 117 placements (pending drug screen and background check).

The Amazon team expressed a desire to strengthen their partnership with the career center which is what we want to hear from all businesses!