Governor Roy Cooper announced several realignments of local workforce development areas today, approving requests from local elected officials in six counties in central North Carolina. The Governor’s action followed recommendations from the NCWorks Commission, the state workforce development board, which voted in favor of the requests during a February 8 meeting in Raleigh.
The six counties are:
- Alamance County, which will transfer to the Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board (WDB);
- Davidson County, which will transfer to the Piedmont Triad Regional WDB;
- Montgomery County, which will transfer to the Mid-Carolina Workforce Development Board (WDB);
- Moore County, which will transfer to the Mid-Carolina WDB;
- Orange County, which will transfer to the Capital Area Workforce Development Board; and
- Randolph County, which will transfer to the Piedmont Triad Regional WDB.
“Strengthening our workforce system while enhancing its alignment with economic development will help us ensure that North Carolina can keep training workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow, while meeting employers’ growing needs for talent,” Governor Cooper said. “We are continuing to work with local elected leaders, local workforce boards, businesses and other partners, to help all areas of our state to prosper.”
All these changes are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023. As a result, North Carolina will have 20 local workforce development boards. By contrast, the current arrangement includes 22 boards. Two current local workforce boards, DavidsonWorks and Regional Partnership WDB, will cease operations by June 30, 2023.
A local Workforce Development Board is a group of community leaders appointed by local elected officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area, in accordance with federal law. Each board oversees the NCWorks Career Centers located in its counties. Like the NCWorks Commission, local workforce boards are led by private sector representatives.
The requests from local elected officials to update the local area board serving their counties came after the NCWorks Commission approved recommendations and guiding principles for workforce alignment in 2022. The Commission had conducted a study to understand the opportunities for realigning the workforce board system in order to better support economic development while enhancing services to customers, particularly employers, amid a tight labor market and a changing economy.
“Our state’s First in Talent Plan emphasizes the leading role that the workforce plays in economic development today, because we must fill the many jobs being created with skilled, trained North Carolina workers,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “We are pleased to see that local leaders are embracing opportunities to be innovative, and we will continue to look for ways to promote the closer alignment of workforce development with economic development.”
In the event that additional counties wish to transfer to other local workforce areas, local officials may submit an application to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. If approved by the NCWorks Commission, such realignments would take effect no earlier than July 1, 2024. Bringing counties that share regional labor markets together under workforce boards can create opportunities for new or stronger partnerships with various agencies, support for economic development activities, enhanced customer service, greater consistency in programs from place to place, and more effective use of resources.
“When we talk to employers about their talent needs, they are not concerned about geographical boundaries, so the more we can work regionally as workforce boards, the better we are able to support our employer customers,” said Pat E. Sturdivant, Executive Director of the Capital Area WDB.
As of July 1, Capital Area WDB will serve five counties: Chatham, Johnston, Lee, Orange and Wake.
“We are excited that Moore and Montgomery counties are joining our workforce system,” said Matthew Fowler, Executive Director of the Mid-Carolina WDB. “We look forward to providing workforce services and opportunities for economic development and prosperity to all citizens in our new region. This realignment is the foundation to how we bridge our job-seekers and business community together, creating a successfully trained and skilled workforce that is ready to be placed on the job in our five-county region.”
As of July 1, Mid-Carolina WDB will serve five counties: Cumberland, Harnett, Montgomery, Moore and Sampson.
“As talent continues to be a major issue in economic development success, it is imperative that we innovate to positively differentiate ourselves from our competitors,” said Wendy Walker-Fox, Workforce and Economic Development Director for the Piedmont Triad Regional WDB. “In the end, we saw the realignment discussions as opportunities to build consensus around an approach that would improve our current structure, allow regional innovation, provide superior service and oversight, and cause limited disruption along the way. During our discussions, we reinforced that above all, realignment was an individual decision to be made by each county. We are excited about the new configuration and extending our partnerships with the areas that now comprise the Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board Local Area.”
As of July 1, Piedmont Triad Regional WDB will serve ten counties: Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Randolph, Rockingham, Surry, Stokes and Yadkin.
The NCWorks Commission recommends policies and strategies that enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy. The Commission is designated as the state’s Workforce Development Board under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Led by a private sector chair, the 37-member Commission includes representatives from the business community, heads of state workforce agencies, educators, and community leaders.
Jobseekers and employers interested in workforce services should continue to contact their local NCWorks Career Centers. Contact information for each Career Center is found at www.NCWorks.gov.