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NC Joins 20 States in Job Training Initiative

North Carolina is now part of the Skillful State Network, which will help connect the state with more initiative for hands-on training of skills in need. (Fort George Public Affairs Office)
North Carolina is now part of the Skillful State Network, which will help connect the state with more initiative for hands-on training of skills in need. (Fort George Public Affairs Office)
February 19, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina's unemployment rate is now higher than the national average, after climbing in December – but the state is joining 19 others in an innovative program to address the problem.

The Tar Heel State was selected to be part of the Skillful State Network, which will prioritize training for people in need of a job for specific marketable skills.

State Deputy Secretary of Commerce Napoleon Wallace says while degree and credential programs are important, it's hands-on knowledge that has the quickest results.

"We found that it's actually better to be able to map directly to the skill as opposed to mapping to the degree,” he explains. “For the vast majority of North Carolinians who don't have a four-year degree, attaining skills that can help them get access to the labor market is a quick way to sort of up skill folks."

The Skillful network is an initiative by the Markle Foundation and offers coaches and services to connect job seekers with skills that are in demand.

The program started in Colorado, and Microsoft contributed more than $25 million in 2017.

Tennessee and Virginia are the only other southern states selected.

Wallace adds that North Carolina's existing programs, such as NCWorks Certified Career Pathways, is one factor that led to the state’s inclusion in the initiative.

But he says state leaders are excited to see where collaboration can lead.

"We do think the collaboration between other states, seeing how other states will do it, will be a really good way for us to learn a lot as well, to make sure that we're really operating with best practices," he states.

This month, Gov. Roy Cooper also laid out his priorities for workforce development with his own program – NC Job Ready.

The initiative looks at skills attainment, employer-led programs and local innovations.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC