As Charlotte Works approaches the second half of the program year, it’s important to take stock of our strategic plan and our progress toward its goals.
In June 2015, former President and CEO Steve Partridge launched the strategic plan with a discussion of its areas of focus to positively affect the workforce and the community.
Since then, the board has formed committees, written charters and begun working on the plan’s three focus areas. Here are the highlights:
Currently, North Carolina is 50 out of 50 in the nation for economic mobility, meaning that it’s harder for our neighbors to move up a career ladder and out of poverty.
Because we cannot solve this problem by ourselves, Charlotte Works has partnered with other workforce boards and community colleges to plan and develop a regional advanced manufacturing certified career pathway. Manufacturing, with more than 140,000 jobs in the Greater Charlotte Region and projected continued growth, was a natural selection. The pathway, made possible through a grant from the state of North Carolina, will create multiple entry-points for job-seekers to enter careers that offer upward mobility.
We expect planning for the pathway to be completed by June, followed by state certification and an application for implementation funding to follow. And we anticipate developing other pathways.
Another way we can address economic mobility is by creating access to employer-driven training to help the un- and under-employed land in growing careers. So this spring, we’re launching a local pilot incumbent worker training grant program called UpSkill Charlotte. It will focus on working with employers to help train and move individuals in entry-level positions up the career ladder while back-filling the vacant positions with new workers. Stay tuned for details.
These initiatives offer opportunities for more individuals to receive sector-created training at any stage in their careers to grow in an in-demand field, ultimately helping many citizens achieve the American dream.
Building the Charlotte region’s workforce system capacity is vital to marketing our area to new employers and growing existing businesses. Through collaboration with other workforce development partners, we’ll fully define the breadth and depth of our talent pipeline, its needs and gaps, and help ensure a competitive workforce for all employers.
To address one of the already-identified gaps, Charlotte Works has launched the Working Smart: Soft Skills for Workplace Success program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to provide career and technical education students with the soft skills that employers have recognized as lacking in our current workforce. Nearly 60 students in four high schools are expected to receive the Working Smart certification by the end of the school year; more schools will be added to the program next year.
Labor market intelligence
Data: it’s what drives Charlotte Works. Data vetted by our region’s employers has the power to shape our workforce. As data’s importance and need grows, so has our data team: we recently added a UNC Charlotte research fellow to assist our data collection and analysis efforts.
We’ve also updated our occupations-in-demand list that identifies the top-growing jobs in Mecklenburg County. Starting next month, the list will guide allocation of our training dollars to help fill the talent pipeline.
And regional data drives the NC Work Ready Community initiative. In partnership with Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte Works continues to promote the N.C. Career Readiness Certificate, a portable credential that tests work-readiness, to both job-seekers and employers as another way to close the skills gap. By using data to target specific industries with an immediate need for certified individuals, we’re increasing the competitiveness of both our workforce and economy.
We’re focused on keeping the momentum of the past seven months alive. And these initiatives don’t stop here: we’ve got even more projects coming. From developing our first true sector strategy to increasing work-based learning opportunities to working with partners on a shared client-assessment tool, we’ll keep pushing toward our vision of making the Charlotte region home to the nation’s most skilled and work-ready workforce.
View our strategic plan: 2015 Strategic Plan – FINAL.
Emily Clamp is the program specialist at Charlotte Works. She manages and guides the implementation of the organization’s strategic plan, working directly with board members and committees. She previously served as human resources coordinator at Project Resources Group. Prior to that, she was communications specialist at the Centralina Workforce Development Board. Clamp has a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in gerontology and religious studies from UNC Charlotte.