CHINA GROVE, N.C. – Representatives from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College recently visited South Rowan High School to share information about opportunities available through the College’s Career & Technical Education and Career & College Promise programs. Sophomore and junior students learned about options for getting started with college courses while still in high school.

“High school students are often surprised to learn they can begin earning tuition-free college credits,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Marketing and Enrollment Manager Crystal Ryerson. “No matter what path they take after high school, this allows them to get a jump-start and save money in the process.”

Rowan-Cabarrus also offers students a chance for hands-on experience in fields including advertising and graphic design, HVAC, automotive, computer-integrated machining, cosmetology, criminal justice, early childhood education, electrical systems, information technology, mechanical drafting, motorsports management, welding, pre-nursing, radiography, occupational therapist assisting and physical therapist assisting.

South Rowan junior Payton Sloop, who attends the Rowan-Cabarrus cosmetology program, told fellow students that she already is engaged in hands-on learning in her field of choice and plans to leave high school with a certificate to work as a licensed cosmetologist.

In Rowan-Salisbury Schools, “innovation” and “collaboration” are two prevalent buzzwords at the core of strategies to address the nationwide discussion of a growing workforce skills gap. By 2024, it is predicted that only 16 percent of jobs will require a four-year degree or higher, down significantly from the current national average of 21 percent. While a four-year degree is still required for many professional positions or advancement in certain roles, it is no longer a “one size fits all” solution to career success.

By focusing on innovative initiatives, partnerships and progressive thinking, the school system is taking steps to ensure that students are ready for the job market they will encounter. South Rowan, for example, offers lunch-and-learn events, job shadowing opportunities, informational interviews, mock interviews, internships, career fairs and “5 Minutes Tops” events similar to a “Shark Tank” format.

“We are committed to informing students of their many options and encouraging them to think with the end in mind,” said Tammara Walker, career coach manager and lead career and academic advisor for Rowan-Cabarrus. “The opportunities are plentiful. At Rowan-Cabarrus, we believe partnering with schools is instrumental in helping students develop a clear path to success and also benefits employers and communities by helping prepare a well-trained workforce.”