Raleigh, N.C.

Today, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper joined U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo to announce that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $23.7 million American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge grant to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University to create STEPs4GROWTH, a clean energy workforce training program.

“North Carolina is quickly becoming the center of our country’s emerging clean energy economy,” Governor Cooper said. “This transformative grant will invest in our state's diverse workforce as we continue to create high paying clean energy jobs and bolster NC A&T's reputation as a national leader preparing students for the economy of the future."

“President Biden is committed to expanding career opportunities for more Americans to secure good-paying jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment will create a workforce training program for the clean energy sector, providing quality, demand-driven training for workers and a workforce to grow and expand the industry.”

“North Carolina is leading the charge in the clean energy economy,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “This EDA Good Jobs Grant will position our state’s clean energy workforce model as top in the nation – with an equity focus to ensure all North Carolinians can participate in this growing sector.”

“Expanding the pre-apprenticeship program to provide opportunities for more students will help North Carolina meet our Clean Energy Plan goals as we transition to a clean energy economy,” said DEQ Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “DEQ is proud to be a partner in the program’s development and will continue to support the great work being done here at NC A&T.”

“NCBCE is proud to continue to work with leaders at NC A&T, NC State, the State Energy Office, the NC Community Colleges, and the Department of Public Instruction to offer work-based learning opportunities in clean energy to students in North Carolina,” said Caroline Sullivan, Executive Director of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education. “This grant will enable us to offer more work-based learning opportunities to K-12 students across the state and to scale LiNC-IT, North Carolina’s internship program for early career autistic professionals, and to provide more students of all abilities with opportunities to participate in this growing sector.”

The NC A&T Good Jobs Challenge grant will create STEPs4GROWTH, a clean energy workforce training program that will start in high school and continue through college. The program will allow participants to earn certificates and build skills all the way to a bachelor’s degree. It will set up sectoral partnerships in four areas: Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Clean Vehicles and Grid and Storage, while establishing regional training centers at Halifax Community College, Martin Community College, Guilford Technical Community College and UNC Charlotte and Olympic High School in Charlotte.

During today’s visit, Governor Cooper and Secretary Raimondo toured NC A&T’s electric vehicle and robotics lab and participated in a roundtable discussion with grant partners and clean energy employers.

The EDA’s American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge program is allocating $500 million to 32 workforce training partnerships across the country. These partnerships will expand opportunities by building and strengthening systems and partnerships that bring together employers and key entities to train workers with in-demand skills that lead to good-paying jobs.

In July 2021, Governor Cooper visited North Carolina’s first Clean Energy Youth Apprenticeship Pilot, the Halifax Lighthouse Solar Camp and talked with 20 high school students and instructors. The Clean Energy Youth Apprenticeship was developed in partnership with the Office of the Governor, NCBCE, NC Department of Environmental Quality State Energy Office, NC A&T, NC State University Clean Energy Technology Center, NC Community College System, Halifax County Schools, Halifax Community College and the Center for Energy Education. The Halifax County program began in May 2021 with 20 high school students training to work in solar and wind energy jobs. Participating students completed 96 hours of classroom instruction at Halifax Community College. Students who finished the program received a Solar Workforce Certificate along with three industry certifications: OSHA 10 – Construction, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Level, and Working Smart. Students also earned 80 hours of work-based learning at the Center for Energy Education in Roanoke Rapids and with local employers, working on solar panels as well as wind turbines.

Read more about the EDA’s Good Jobs Challenge

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