Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina is already benefiting from collaborative efforts to establish regional career pathways across the state, according to a new report prepared for the NCWorks Commission, Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide workforce development board. The state now has 35 NCWorks Certified Career Pathways, and the “impact report” focuses on the thirteen that had reached one year of implementation by June 30, 2018.

“NCWorks Certified Career Pathways are a key element of NC Job Ready, my workforce development initiative to ensure North Carolinians are ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Governor Cooper wrote in a letter accompanying the report. “Having information about career options and access to the training needed to prepare for those careers is critical to being job ready. NCWorks Certified Career Pathways provide seamless career paths to help job seekers enter high-wage, high-demand jobs in their communities.”

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 related field.

Career Pathways are designed not only for younger students, but also for adults who are looking to advance their careers. Individuals can access a Career Pathway through NCWorks Career Centers, public schools, community colleges, and public and private universities.

The report features best practices, developments and successes that highlight each of the eight criteria for NCWorks Certified Career Pathways:

  • Demand-Driven and Data Informed
  • Employer Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Career Awareness
  • Articulation & Coordination
  • Work-Based Learning
  • Multiple Points of Entry and Exit
  • Evaluation

According to the report, NCWorks Certified Career Pathways have had a positive impact on the state since their inception, by easing the financial burden of education and training for career seekers; upskilling career seekers, making them attractive candidates for gainful employment; facilitating regional support, capacity building and collaboration for workforce partners; and causing a “domino effect” and inspiring other successes outside of their initial scope.

Finally, the report makes recommendations to strengthen NCWorks Certified Career Pathways, by enhancing outreach to students, parents and the front-line education and workforce professionals who serve them; and by maintaining the momentum from the development stage of the pathways through the implementation stage.

“The effect of NCWorks Certified Career Pathways on education and training programs, career seeker preparation and employer needs cannot be overstated,” said NCWorks Commission Executive Director Catherine Moga Bryant. “The investment in NCWorks Certified Career Pathways is paying dividends, and a job ready North Carolina is the benefit.”

Partners from the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the N.C. Community College System first began discussions on developing standardized career pathways in 2014. Then, in 2015, a $200,000 grant from the John M. Belk Endowment helped fund the effort to develop and implement the NCWorks Certified Career Pathways model in North Carolina. In the three years since, regional teams have applied for and received certification from the NCWorks Commission for pathways in high-wage, high-demand industry sectors, including healthcare, transportation, advanced manufacturing, hospitality and tourism, and information technology. The state’s 23 local workforce development boards take leading roles in the process of creating and implementing pathways that strengthen talent pipelines.

The NCWorks Commission, which is designated as the state’s Workforce Development Board under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, recommends policies and strategies to enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy. Led by a private sector chair, the 33-member Commission includes representatives from the business community, heads of state workforce agencies, educators and community leaders. 

The report is available online: nccertifiedcareerpathways.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/NCWorks-Certified-Career-Pathways-1-Year-Impact-Report-ONLINE_2018.pdf

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