The NCWorks Commission, North Carolina’s workforce development board, today released a new plan that outlines the state’s workforce development strategy over the next four years. Required by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), this Unified State Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education.
The Commission unanimously approved the document during its regular quarterly meeting, held on Feb. 12 at the Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education in Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter.
The plan supports NC Job Ready, Governor Roy Cooper’s workforce initiative, which is built on three core principles: helping North Carolinians get the skills and education they need to be ready for jobs available now and in the future, using employer leadership to keep training relevant to evolving industry needs, and taking promising local innovations and applying them statewide.
“Thanks to the collaboration of numerous partners, this Unified State Plan provides an overview of all the state’s workforce initiatives, pointing to how they are currently connected and how they can be integrated further, to promote North Carolina’s economic prosperity,” said Tom Rabon, the chair of the NCWorks Commission. “The plan illustrates how the NCWorks system will continue implementing the NC Job Ready initiative, by connecting workers with career services and training while providing employers a pipeline of skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.”
The Unified State Plan encompasses the core federally-funded programs authorized under the four main titles of the law:
- Title I, the WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth workforce development programs;
- Title II, the Adult Education and Literacy program;
- Title III, the Wagner-Peyser Act employment services program; and
- Title IV, the Vocational Rehabilitation services program.
For North Carolina, the N.C. Department of Commerce administers Titles I and III, while the N.C. Community College System administers Title II, and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services administers Title IV. The plan calls for continuing to enhance coordination among these agencies, as well as many others involved in workforce development, education and economic development.
The new plan also notes the growth of jobs in North Carolina that require education and training beyond the high school level, and the need for the state to meet its first official postsecondary education attainment goal. That goal, first announced by the myFutureNC organization in 2019 and later codified into state law, is that, by 2030, two million North Carolinians have a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.
According to myFutureNC, without any changes, North Carolina will fall short of the goal by approximately 400,000 residents, who will lack the skills needed by employers. The Unified State Plan highlights efforts to overcome barriers to credential attainment, including the Finish Line Grants program, a partnership involving the N.C. Department of Commerce, community colleges and local workforce development boards.
Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC, addressed the NCWorks Commission in Winston-Salem on Feb. 12 and thanked Commission members for their support of the attainment goal.
Also during the meeting, the Commission recognized the certification of the NCWorks Career Centers in the High Country Workforce Development Board area (Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties); the Kerr-Tar Workforce Development Board area (Franklin, Granville, Person, Warren and Vance counties); the Durham County Workforce Development Board area; and the Gaston County Workforce Development Board area.
The NCWorks Commission establishes customer service standards for all NCWorks Career Centers to ensure high quality and consistent service delivery across the state. These one-stop centers assist job seekers with improving their skills and finding jobs, and help businesses develop a qualified workforce. Certification indicates that the centers deliver services in an integrated, coordinated way, have well-trained professional staff and are accessible to all customers.
Rounding out the meeting were a presentation by Erika Ferguson of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on the Healthy Opportunities initiative and the NCCARE360 network, and a review of the annual report on the performance of North Carolina’s workforce development system.
The NCWorks Commission recommends policies and strategies that enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy. Led by a private sector chair, the 33-member NCWorks Commission includes representatives from the business community, heads of state workforce agencies, educators and community leaders.