Chamber Chat – Lee County Employer Needs

November 01, 2020 | Written by: sanford-user

By Meg Moss

The partnership between the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, and Central Carolina Community College is a great example of how community entities can work together for the common good of the community, and in this case, our employers.

This week, SAGA and CCCC worked together on two employer sessions. The first cohort of employers came from those employing folks in the construction skilled trades – heating and air, carpentry, plumbing, roofing, and electrical. The Chamber of Commerce Education and Workforce Development Committee brought together ten employers to ask them questions about their workforce needs. The virtual meeting was also attended by a host of workforce development professionals and educators, who were in “listening” mode, as the voice of the employer was of utmost importance in this instance.

We asked questions regarding how they are currently finding employees, and what skills are needed in their particular profession. We heard a myriad of answers, but overall, employers are finding that people are not staying on the job long enough. Often times, folks start a job, get the training they need, and then leave for another employer who offers 50 cents more per hour.

There are a lot of “next steps” to take in order to address the needs of the construction skilled trades employers. Many of their employees are aging out, and the demand for qualified workers is great. One common theme we found was that the employers who have already partnered with CCCC, are finding a lot of success with students coming out of those specialized training programs.

The second cohort of employers that SAGA and CCCC leaders met with were in the advanced manufacturing arena.  The two organizations invited human resource managers and plant managers to a workforce conversation focused on entry-level skills in advanced manufacturing. Specifically, what pain points they are experiencing in the hiring process for a skilled workforce and what would a training program look like that responded to those demands for the employees they need today and in the future?

During this session, we explored a public and private sector partnership model currently employed in Rowan County. They develop the program in response to their manufacturing workforce needs. Their model is defined by local industry and utilizes the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council – Certified Production Technician program as its core. Over 80% of their graduates have found full-time employment within one month of completing the program.

“While we hear a lot about low unemployment, many of us know people who are still piecing together multiple part-time jobs or who are desperately searching for a good job,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of corporate and continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “This program is for anyone who wants a quality full-time job with full benefits – it doesn’t matter what your background is, it matters what your future is.”

The manufacturing employers in attendance were very excited about this model, and look forward to tweaking the program slightly to meet the needs of employers in Lee and surrounding counties.

The conversations are just starting, but with the input and leadership of our area employers, SAGA believes we can collectively be at the start of something great.