By 2030, 67% of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or credential. On its current trajectory, post-secondary educational attainment will only reach 54% in North Carolina. Therefore, increasing the number of people in the workforce, especially for jobs requiring a post-secondary degree or credential, is necessary for North Carolina’s economic vitality.
The Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) special initiative was launched in January 2020 – when unemployment was low and North Carolina was experiencing significant job growth – to address the need of employers to expand access to available talent to fill open jobs. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the unemployment numbers in the state, there is still a significant need to educate and train a qualified workforce.
At the June 2020 Board meeting, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $3.5 million to support 10 projects through the GLOW initiative. These programs will serve populations in Brunswick, Buncombe, Cumberland, Cleveland, Davie, Forsyth, Halifax, Pasquotank, Pender, Person, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties.
Funded projects will support short-term training programs that will increase the trained workforce for high-demand jobs including construction, manufacturing, health services, truck driving, IT, and plumbing. These programs are intended to increase labor participation to help fill the needs of employers by supporting adults with significant barriers to employment, the long-term unemployed, as well as underemployed workers in low-wage jobs, the previously incarcerated, and individuals in recovery from substance-use disorders reenter the workforce.
The Family Resource Center South Atlantic is working to expand its programming to support long-term unemployed and formerly incarcerated individuals to support employer needs in Halifax County.
“The Family Resource Center South Atlantic has sought to serve families and change communities for nearly 25 years,” said Derrick Byrd, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center South Atlantic. “The Golden LEAF Foundation has enabled us to extend our reach to those in need of second chances through its financial support of the New Start program. The Golden LEAF Foundation’s generous award will be able to provide job training and career planning that results in permanent employment for those who have returned from incarceration in Halifax County.”
The following GLOW projects received funding at the June 2020 Board meeting:
- $365,000.00 to the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Community Betterment Foundation to build a consortium of partner organizations working together to link adults with significant employment barriers to employers and high-demand jobs in construction, manufacturing, and health services.
- $239,298.00 to Cleveland County for a program that recruits underemployed adults working in low-wage jobs to receive Certified Production Technician, soft skills training, wraparound services, and the opportunity to be interviewed and hired by major local employers.
- $358,000.00 to Elizabeth City State University for a 2-week residential program for disconnected young adults to support career assessments, education, soft skills training, and job placement in healthcare, manufacturing, warehousing, or information technology, as well as to serve students who have fallen below the required GPA level or who are on academic probation.
- $452,000.00 to Family Resource Center South Atlantic to provide a career-focused re-entry program including employment assessment and training, job placement, and case management services for formerly incarcerated and long-term unemployed, adult workers in Halifax County.
- $296,535.00 to Fayetteville Technical Community College to provide assessment, training, and job placement in electrical, HVAC, plumbing, and carpentry in Cumberland County for individuals previously incarcerated for non-violent crimes.
- $434,850.00 to Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, Inc. to help participants from Davie, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes, and Yadkin counties who do not qualify for a 100% Goodwill or federal WIOA scholarship obtain job training and placement services for professional truck driver training/CDL, customer service/call center, forklift operator, nursing assistant, welding, pharmacy assistant, HVAC, and facility maintenance technician positions.
- $50,000 to Northwest Piedmont Council of Governments to study logistics of transportation support for workforce development program participants. Pending outcome of the study, additional funds are available for implementation in at least two counties.
- $225,000.00 to Phoenix Employment Services Of Wilmington, Inc. (DBA StepUp Wilmington) to expand an existing program into Brunswick and Pender counties to place disconnected, unemployed and underemployed low-income residents into jobs and provide additional training and credentialing to prepare them for high-demand, living wage careers in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation.
- $500,000.00 to Piedmont Community College for equipment and supportive services to train participants in Certified Production Technician, Siemens Level I and HVAC programs that lead to industry-recognized certifications and to provide paid work-based learning opportunities for students who need additional training.
- $423,459.00 to Wilkes Recovery Revolution, Inc. to connect individuals seeking recovery from substance-use disorders to employment by providing clients with supportive services and training and certifications in manufacturing and industrial maintenance skills, nurse aide I, and skilled trades in construction.