Charlotte, N.C.

The NCWorks Commission gave formal approval to the state’s first Energy Career Pathway during its quarterly meeting on Aug. 7, held at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont in Charlotte.

Driven by the energy sector’s need for a supply of skilled talent, the new NCWorks Certified Career Pathway provides guidance to help prepare students and workers for careers and advancement in the energy industry. The Carolinas Energy Workforce Consortium, a group of electric utilities, electric cooperatives, and contractor companies for these energy providers in both North and South Carolina, collaborated on the new pathway with local and state partners in education and workforce development.

The initiative also marks the first time that six local workforce development boards have collaborated on a single career pathway. The alliance includes the Region C, Mountain Area, Gaston, Western Piedmont, Charlotte Works and Centralina Workforce Development Boards. Together, these boards represent 21 counties, 27 local K-12 school systems and 14 community colleges.

The Certified Energy Pathway covers many individual careers under one umbrella, including entry-level lineworkers as well as occupations in transmission & distribution energy technology, customer service, management, marketing and administration.

The pathway cites the labor market analytics organization Emsi as projecting 10% growth for jobs as Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers in the region through 2023, along with 49% growth for jobs as Solar Photovoltaic Installers during the same period.

NCWorks partners have now developed 36 Certified Career Pathways to help North Carolinians get the education and training needed to work in high-demand, high-wage careers. NCWorks Certified Career Pathways support Gov. Roy Cooper’s NC Job Ready workforce initiative, which is built on three core principles: skills and education attainment so North Carolinians are ready for jobs available now and in the future, employer leadership to remain relevant to evolving industry needs, and local innovation to take great ideas and apply them statewide.

Career Pathways are designed by employers in collaboration with the state’s workforce development and education professionals. They outline and define the following:

  • Necessary courses at the high school and college level;
  • Required credentials;
  • Experience required and the employers in a given area who provide work-based learning activities related to that field; and
  • Various certificates and degrees in the field.

Pathways are designed to match worker preparation to employer need. The state’s 23 local workforce development boards take leading roles in the process of creating and implementing pathways that strengthen talent pipelines.

Also during the Aug. 7 meeting, the Commission officially certified the NCWorks Career Centers in the Centralina Workforce Development Board area (Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties), the Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board area (Caswell, Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties), the Region Q Workforce Development Board area (Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties) and the Lumber River Workforce Development Board area (Bladen, Hoke, Robeson, Richmond and Scotland counties).

The NCWorks Commission establishes customer service standards for all NCWorks Career Centers to ensure high-quality and consistent service delivery across the state. These “one-stop” centers assist job seekers with improving their skills and finding jobs, and help businesses develop a qualified workforce. Certification indicates that the centers deliver services in an integrated, coordinated way, have well-trained professional staff and are accessible to all customers.

The meeting also spotlighted “Good Jobs Charlotte,” a workforce and education data project for Mecklenburg County. “The goal of this initiative is to define a collective approach to labor market data and to advance a vision for future collaboration around economic mobility,” Danielle Frazier, president/CEO of Charlotte Works, explained. Sylvia Cini of Central Piedmont Community College added that the project “allows us as workforce and education stakeholders to align our data and align our focus on economic mobility to have a greater impact.” Other partners involved in the project include Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The Good Jobs Charlotte project is one of the six local partnerships across the state that won NCWorks Local Innovation Fund grants. These funds support efforts to connect people with the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. The fund is an initiative of the NCWorks Commission and is administered by the N.C. Commerce Department’s Workforce Solutions division.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles also addressed the Commission during the meeting, praising the efforts of Charlotte Works to promote economic mobility and opportunities for all city residents to obtain sustainable careers that pay a living wage.


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