A showcase event to highlight technical pathway programs sponsored by a grant from Duke Energy

SALISBURY, N.C. — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, in conjunction with Duke Energy, recently hosted a Taste of Industry event showcasing the available trade career options through the College’s technical pathway programs.

“We are grateful to Duke Energy for their support of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Their continued support and significant contributions to the College over the last few years have been vital.”

The event featured a panel of leaders from industry fields such as machinists, welders, and IT management. High school Panel talking at Taste of Industryteachers, counselors and college instructors joined together to explore the vibrant career options within these different fields and industries that pay well and have excellent benefits.

“Our goal for this event was to engage with core subject high school teachers to show them what careers in technical education really look like. We discussed our industry-related programs, such as information technology, welding, machining, and gave the teachers an opportunity to participate in interactive simulations,” said Dr. Van Madray, dean of business, engineering technologies & public services at Rowan-Cabarrus. “Many were surprised at the careers available – these are not your grandfather’s jobs. They are high-tech, high-demand, and high paying.”

In addition to the great one-day event, the grant also allowed the College to purchase curriculum kits for each teacher in attendance. The kit was designed to be taken back to the classroom to implement what was learned from the event. The kit was comprised of calculators, calipers, a networking kit (raspberry pi), a poster, and a flash drive full of five complete lesson plans.

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support that addresses the needs within the communities of its customers. They offer more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The Duke Energy Foundation focuses on kindergarten to career education, particularly in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. Workforce and economic growth is a primary area of Duke Energy’s philanthropic investment priorities.

“Developing the region’s workforce benefits us all,” said Randy Welch, district manager, Duke Energy Carolinas. “Our investments come full circle when many of the students go on to work for area industries, and those industries then gain skilled workers trained to meet the community needs.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics current employment statistics summary, manufacturing employment increased by 22,000 in March 2018. Durable goods accounted for the majority, while fabricated metal products added 9,000 of those jobs. So far this year, manufacturing industries have added 74,000 jobs in the United States.

“We want to get the word out to the community that the four-year college path is not the only, or necessarily the best, path for every student to pursue,” said Crystal Ryerson, marketing and enrollment manager at Rowan-Cabarrus. “Technology is changing the world around us every day, and the job market is affected by this in a major way. In order for our students to have a sustainable future, we have to adapt to the new norm of preparing for the workforce.”

The Taste of Industry panelists answered questions pertaining to job placement, salary expectancy, and additional employee benefits. During the question and answer session, high school teachers and counselors were enlightened about the current Classroom portion of the Taste of Industry eventchanges in today’s job market and what kinds of skills employers were looking for. Soft skills and desire to show up to work on time were the top requirements communicated.

“Competition in overly saturated job markets makes it harder for today’s college graduates to find profitable employment, which not only hurts the economy but also halts economic growth in development within our communities. Technical careers are lucrative options that go largely unnoticed because everyone is focused on four-year institutions,” said Madray. “Meanwhile, great job opportunities are going unfilled right here in the Rowan and Cabarrus communities.”

Today, manufacturers across the country are facing a skills gap between the technical skills their employees need and the skills they find in applicants. Rowan-Cabarrus is working diligently with manufacturers to do its part in addressing the gap that prohibits employers from filling these high-tech, high-wage jobs. The Duke Energy grant continues to help the College to further that mission.

“The goal is to develop a college-going community; whether they attend to learn a skilled trade, obtain a degree or certification, or to advance in their current career.  Rowan-Cabarrus offers the tools to provide the learning they need to progress further in life,” said Spalding.

Thanks to another grant from the National Science Foundation, the College will be able to continue to offer this event for the next few years. Those interested in participating should contact Crystal Ryerson for more information (crystal.ryerson@rccc.edu, 704-216-3806).

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu/apply or call 704-216-RCCC (7222). The College is currently accepting applications for fall classes beginning August 13, 2018.