Onslow, Jones, and Duplin counties are coming together to help solve their workforce needs by creating a pipeline from high school to career. This region is helping to address the needs specific to their local employers by unifying high school skills training programs under one roof.
The Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center was designed to bring the resources of many Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs together, in one central location, to serve a larger audience. This center is providing advanced training to high students to help address skills gaps for local business and industry in Onslow County and the surrounding region.
In December 2017, Golden LEAF awarded $575,000 in funding through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to Onslow County Schools to assist in building a $9 million regional skills center that will serve Onslow, Jones, and Duplin counties. Golden LEAF focused its funding on supporting the welding, HVAC, and automotive programs. The State provided $5 million and Onslow County Schools provided $3.6 million for the project.
The Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center opened in fall 2019.
“We considered many workforce areas to focus on and received input from economic development boards, workforce boards, data, job reports, and local industry focus group discussions to help shape the training options we offer,” said John Shannon, Director of the Eastern North Carolina Regional Skills Center. “The center provides advanced training for a number of business and industry areas that have demonstrated a need in the district and the region.”
Currently the center offers training in HVAC, welding, automotive service, collision repair and refinishing, culinary arts and hospitality, nursing fundamentals, robotics and digital game design and animation.
While the pandemic and other factors such as transportation have temporarily affected the ability to recruit students from Duplin and Jones counties, a total of 171 students from Onslow County have participated in the HVAC, welding, and automotive programs. These students earned a total of 78 industry-recognized credentials.
“Currently, we are planning a spring 2022 event with many of our industry partners in late May to have our seniors and possibly juniors meeting these businesses and finding out about job opportunities and other mentoring options,” said Shannon. “We expect to see graduating seniors walking out of this event with a potential job offer, and the possibility of a career with a local or regional business.”