Home > NC > Winston Salem > Education, Careers & Opportunity > Winston-Salem’s Workforce is Ready for the Future

Winston-Salem’s Workforce is Ready for the Future

Innovative career development programs keep the Winston-Salem area's workforce primed and read. 

By Teree Caruthers on January 3, 2023

Atkins Magnet High School students in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

A highly skilled and readily available workforce gives the Winston-Salem region a decided advantage when attracting and retaining new business. Innovative career development programs sponsored by the region’s colleges and universities and economic development organizations ensure a steady pipeline of talent to growing and in-demand industries.

ASPIRE Winston Salem High School Internship program in Winston-Salem, NC.
Alesia Hilton

A LEAP Toward the Workforce

For example, the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program (LEAP) at Forsyth Technical Community College allows students to simultaneously earn a degree while gaining real-world skills — and a salary — working for a local company. LEAP, which is registered through the statewide ApprenticeshipNC program, places apprentices in such high-demand fields such as IT, transportation, health care and manufacturing. The program targets not only students but also working adults looking to advance in their careers.

“An apprenticeship could make the difference in training that person. That will take the knowledge into the next generation.”

Danielle Rose, Forsyth Technical Community College

“Some of our partners include large companies like Herbalife, Siemens Energy, Novant Health and Progress Rail, which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar. But then we also have partnerships with some smaller, family-owned businesses like Bob King Automotive. Apprenticeships are just as valuable for those companies as with the larger businesses,” says Danielle Rose, director of experiential learning at Forsyth Technical Community College. “An apprenticeship could make the difference in training that person. That will take the knowledge into the next generation.”

Rose says the program has registered 72 apprentices and graduated 13 journey workers since its launch in 2019. She says the program offers multiple benefits to everyone involved.

“Our students graduate with a degree or certificate debt-free because we have grants that cover tuition and fees, and they are paid for their apprentice work,” Rose says. “The college benefits because we are able to better align what we’re teaching with industry needs because we have 32 industry partners reporting on the progress of the apprentices. The workforce benefits because it gets a skilled and diverse base of workers.”

Students gathered around a table in Winston-Salem, NC, for Intern Day, which is part of the ASPIRE Winston Salem High School Internship program.
Alesia Hilton

Real-World Lessons

Greater Winston-Salem, Inc.’s ASPIRE paid internship program provides opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to gain job skills and explore career opportunities. The program currently operates in seven high schools with the goal of adding a new school each year. ASPIRE is funded by Truist Bank, which allows Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. to provide equitable internships that disrupt intergenerational poverty while increasing upward mobility.

“Apprenticeship programs and other work-based learning opportunities are so important to career readiness because they connect classroom learning to the real world and give students opportunities to practice skills in real-world scenarios,” says Alesia Hilton, Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. director of internship programs. “In addition to developing their critical thinking and technical skills, students in these programs are afforded the opportunity to develop their career-readiness skills such as professionalism, teamwork and communication. One of the major benefits of apprenticeship programs and other work-based learning opportunities is for students to observe professionals working in their future careers.”

Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. also hosts Senior Academy, a mentoring program for high school seniors who are at risk of not graduating. Students are paired with a mentor who helps them explore career paths through behind-the-scenes visits.

The LEAP acronym has another meaning at Wake Forest UniversityWake’s LEAP (Lab Experiences: Academics and Professions) program provides high school students with hands-on, lab-based summer internships. Rather than earning money in more traditional high school summer jobs, students accepted to the program have a paid summer experience that directly links to a desired career or educational discipline. Several summer immersion programs also allow high school students to dive deep into a career pathway or field of study, with access to Wake Forest faculty, researchers and industry professionals.

The university also hosts Freedom School, a free six-week, literacy-based summer program aimed at strengthening reading skills and closing achievement gaps for students in grades K-8. Wake Forest’s Freedom School is part of a national initiative developed by the Children’s Defense Fund. Students from Wake Forest and other universities serve as teachers. In 2022, the program incorporated STEM-focused lessons to help introduce students to careers in STEM-related fields.

“Wake Forest’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement is committed to education equity through building capacity in schools, neighborhoods and organizations to support lifelong learning and equitable educational outcomes for all students in Forsyth County,” says Kimberly McGrath, director of Strategic Communications, News for Wake Forest University.

If you’d like to learn more about the Winston-Salem, NC, area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Greater Winston-Salem

Array ( [0] => 152642 [1] => 152623 [2] => 152670 )
Array ( )
Array ( )
Array ( [0] => 152642 [1] => 152623 [2] => 152670 )

More To Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date with our latest rankings and articles!
Enter your email to be added to our mailing list.