Pitt Community College is growing its career and technical education (CTE) programs by working with Pitt County Schools high school students to help fill local employer needs.
In December 2019, Pitt Community College was awarded $200,000 by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors to expand the college’s existing Technical Academy by adding electrical and industrial systems CTE programs. The Academy has since added architectural technology and biotechnology. Golden LEAF provided funding for the first two years of a project coordinator who will recruit students and manage all aspects of the program. Funding generated by student enrollment is allowing Pitt Community College to sustain the position.
Pitt Community College’s Technical Academy buses high school participants from their home high schools to the college for the first half of each school day to receive CTE training. The students finish the day at their high school for general coursework. Completers of the Technical Academy will finish high school with one year of community college credit, significantly reducing the time required to complete their associate degree.
“This funding was very helpful to start new courses for the Technical Academy and to grow the program,” Steven Matthews, Dean of Construction & Industrial Technologies at Pitt Community College. “We already have several students working in their field of study as they continue to earn credits towards their Associates degree.”
The Technical Academy connects participants to local apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities. In the first cohort, eight students completed the program. For the 2021-2022 school year, the program had 49 students in the Technical Academy.
Matthews said it takes partnerships to make a program like this work.
“Make connections with counselors and career development coordinators at all of your local high schools so they can help share information with students,” said Matthews. “You will need local community and industry support.”
Outreach to the local high schools is an important part of recruiting for the Technical Academy.
“It takes time to get the word out so students know about the program,” said Matthews. “Being able to go to high schools and speak to students about career options they may have never heard about is so important. This program gives students a chance to seek opportunities they never knew about. This is a major win for Pitt Community College, Pitt County, and our community businesses.”
There is an application process to enter the program but the classes are free to students. Students apply prior to their junior year to take classes during their junior and senior high school years.
“Participants need to be vetted – but they do not have to be at the top of their class,” said Matthews. “A student who gets bored in an English class and maintains a C, may excel in a hands-on learning environment where they are not sitting all day and are able to be up and working on different projects. Our biggest success is having confident students succeed in the workforce.”
For more information on Pitt Community College’s Technical Academy, click here.