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Higher Education in Smithfield, NC

Johnston Community College offers education value.

By Cristal Cody on May 9, 2014

Johnston Community College
Smithfield / Ian Curcio

From industrial training programs to applied science programs‚ Johnston Community College leaves its mark on the county … and its workforce.

While Johnston Community College is the only college in Johnston County, there are several higher education facilities nearby, including: Duke College, Coastal Carolina College, Elon College and High Point. 

Many of Johnston Community College’s workforce programs started in the 1970s‚ but interest has surged in the last decade.

“The state and people have started seeing the value of the community colleges and what we bring in on the industrial training side as an economic development tool‚” says Michael Starling‚ director of industry services. “Most of the time when new companies are looking at us as a place to do business‚ we can show them how they can offset their costs when they come. It’s been a major economic develop ment tool for the county.”

Workforce Development Center

The college’s Workforce Development Center‚ a 30‚000-square-foot‚ high-tech educational and technical skills training center in Clayton‚ offers business training and life sciences programming and training for biotechnology and other sciences. The college offers an associate in applied science degree in bioprocess technology and an associate’s degree in science in pre-biology. Both are a major draw for Johnston County’s cluster of pharmaceutical companies.

Johnston Community College also helps industries offset training costs through state funds.

“If a company has equipment and needs training on that‚ it may not be some thing the college has working knowl edge of‚ but we can hire [someone] to come in and do the training for them‚” Starling says.

The college works most often with manufacturers and distribution centers‚ but “we can work with any business inside the county‚” as well as individuals looking for better work.

“We identify underemployed people who need specific training like computer skills‚” he says. “We can get them ready for the types of jobs we have open in the county.”

The college workforce program also maintains a database of potential workers for companies to draw on when they need to fill positions.

“We fill the entire gamut‚” Starling notes. “We train for somebody who is underemployed or unemployed all the way to continuing training with the companies after they have hired an individual.”

The college even offers a program for new and expanding industries that add 12 or more jobs in the county.

“Then we can pay for all of their training needs free of charge to them‚” Starling says. “If the college can provide it‚ we provide it‚ or if we have to bring in a third-party vendor‚ we do so‚ but the state pays for all the costs.”

Other businesses that don’t qualify for the program may be able to receive training for a small registration fee. And that’s significant‚ considering it costs $8‚000 to $10‚000 to put on classes.

“We do the training year-round when companies need it. We’ve had training [sessions] from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and vice versa‚” Starling says. “We do training around the clock when they request it.”

Read about more education opportunities in Smithfield, NC.

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