A skilled workforce has been a key ingredient to Craven County's growth recipe, and Craven Community College keeps the region stocked with talent and helps drive its economy. The college's career and curriculum-based programs offer multiple pathways to employment as well as customized training for the region’s employers. “
We are in many ways an engine of economic growth in the area, both for industries that are looking to move in to Craven County and those that are here, that are looking to upgrade the workforce, expand in just about every discipline you can imagine," says Craven Community College President Dr. Ray Staats, who ticks off a list that includes computer integration, machining technology, manufacturing, welding, aviation, truck driving or CDL and nursing as just a few of the in-demand careers.
Filling the Labor Gaps
Gery Boucher, Craven Community College vice president for students, says another key to the college’s talent transfer is its ability to quickly adapt to meet industry workforce needs, including developing customized programs to fill specific labor gaps. Manufacturer BSH Home Appliances' expansion in Craven County has created a need for training for current workers and new hires, a need the college is filling. The program includes soft skills training for mid-level entry supervisors to learn how to develop a team, communicate with team members and be efficient and effective in the workplace.
"We also provided robotics courses for BSH when they brought on new equipment pieces," Boucher says. "We've got quite a team.”
The college has provided training for CarolinaEast Health System, which has seen tremendous growth in the past few years, including the addition of a new women’s and children’s health pavilion.
Growing the Workforce
The college prides itself on its job placement programs, such as the apprenticeship and internship programs developed in collaboration with industry leaders. BSH has the largest apprenticeship with the college and the program has been a success, Boucher says.
“We work closely with our industry partners in developing apprenticeships and recruiting students to be part of those apprenticeships so that after they graduate from our programs, they’ve also had quality training and are ready for employment in their companies,” he says. Staats points to the college’s success in placing students in the CDL and aviation programs as further examples, where students are often recruited prior to finishing the programs and receiving their certifications.
"If a student in the CDL program wants a job, they've got a job, most likely before they even finish,” Staats says. "Many of those students find well-paying jobs right when they walk out of the door of Craven,” Staats says.
Making Smart Starts
Craven Community College has also partnered with regional high schools to help keep the pipeline of talent flowing to high-demand industries, such as manufacturing, where there is often a worker shortage.
“We are hitting the liberal arts side as well as your manufacturing-trade side of the house with the high school,” Staats says. “When you combine that with Early College East, which is a specialized high school, a Havelock or Craven County resident can begin a STEM-focused education at the age of 14, graduate from high school with an associate degree in engineering from Craven Community College, stay on the Havelock campus, study for two years with NC State, get a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, and then go across the street through the gate and get an engineering job – without ever leaving the community.”