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RCCC wants to offer more job skills

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Employers seeking people with customer service, sales and trade skills are having a hard time finding them.
That’s according to a statewide survey conducted by the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards. More than 1,150 responses were gathered from businesses with up to 500 employees.
Officials at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College want to help bridge that gap in skill sets.
College President Dr. Carol Spalding said after reading about the survey she wanted to share the information with staff at the college.
“I thought we need to jump on this right away because there is a skill gap and we need to address it in the community so we can bring the jobs here and have the jobs here in the future,” she said.
Vail Carter, a representative of the Centralina Workforce Development Board, presented the findings of the survey to the college’s board of trustees Monday.
He said the skill shortages in customer service and trades such as welding and machining have shifted as the economy and business sectors have undergone changes.
Carter also said many of the “top jobs” such as those in the engineering field are going to foreign workers.
“Skill sets that are in short supply are also the skill sets that are being filled by workers here on foreign visas,” he said. “We’ve got a problem here that we need to fix.”
Beyond the technical training, Carter said the survey also indicated there are also gaps in “soft skills” such as communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving and critical thinking.
Carter said community colleges are one of the most “well kept secrets” to closing skill gaps.
That’s why Jeanie Moore, the college’s vice president of advancement and corporate education, said Rowan-Cabarrus is looking for ways to be a “leader in training.”
“As an institution, if we’re going to tout ourselves as a provider of training we need to model that training and those competencies within our own door,” she said. “So this month we are launching some professional development starting with our administrative staff.”
Moore said eventually all employees at the college will receive training on the Microsoft Office Suite.
The college will also focus on its customer service efforts.
“That will help with soft skills,” Moore said. “It will teach us how to relate not only to our external customers but also how to relate to each other by building team work and camaraderie.”
Moore said the college wants to be “accountable and responsible.”
“If we have success with our own internal training programs we want to be able to tout that with people in our community and say ‘look what we’ve done, we want to come do the same for you,’” she said.
Spalding said its a way for the college to walk their own talk.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “It’s important that our students get the best skills they can and that means a wide range of things.”
Complete survey results are available online at www.agreatworkforce.com.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/Sarah.SalisburyPost

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