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Educators, Employers Cultivating Skilled Workforce

Labor consistently ranks as the #1 consideration of expanding or relocating companies.

Workforce 2014
The Challenge
Labor consistently ranks as the #1 consideration of expanding or relocating companies. The NCEast Alliance has partnered with several entities to combat the skilled worker shortfall and fill the pipeline with well-qualified talent. The comprehensive approach to workforce development has garnered attention from across the country for its level of collaboration and responsiveness to employers’ needs.

Ready to Work
Perhaps no program in the region has been more beneficial to employers than the WorkKeys Job Profiling matched with Career Readiness Certificates (CRC) to insure workers have the correct job-specific foundational skills to begin-on-the-job training and higher level skill development. More than 150 companies now utilize the CRC in their employment practices and nearly 50,000 people now possess a CRC — almost 11 percent of the regional labor force.

“As an employer, our company understands the value of a well-trained workforce. We’ve had several jobs profiled, and the resulting use of CRC scores has helped us put the right people in the right jobs,” said Chris Martin, Mt. Olive Pickle Human Resources Director.

The success of the CRC in eastern NC has allowed the region to pilot a successful Certified WorkReady Community (WRC) initiative being studied for replication statewide. Communities can earn the WRC designation by achieving certain standards, displaying their commitment to workforce excellence (

Craven (New Bern), Edgecombe (Tarboro), Lenoir (Kinston), Pitt (Greenville), and Wayne (Goldsboro) counties are the first five in the state to be certified.

Aligning STEM Education
Another component of the workforce development continuum is STEMEast ( STEMEast was conceived by NCSTEM, Lenoir County Schools, Lenoir Committee of 100, The Alliance, and area business leaders in 2009. With additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Golden LEAF Foundation, and private companies, a regional program was developed. STEMEast built upon the success of the CRC and WRC programs through a public/private network that supports the entire education and workforce pipeline.

Although STEMEast is still a young program (launched in 2011), early results were dramatic: initially five STEM centers in four school districts, a 10–20 percent increase in pass rates on science exams, an 850 percent increase in regional Kenan Fellowships (placing teachers in company internships and development programs), and a 105 percent increase in students taking algebra within a math-focused STEM center. To date, STEMEast has assisted five counties secure over $3 million to support 36 STEM centers by 2016.

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