Workforce Wednesdays: A Successful Collaboration Fueling Caldwell County's Future

Workforce Wednesdays: A Successful Collaboration Fueling Caldwell County's Future Main Photo

8 Jul 2024

Caldwell County, North Carolina, has recently completed a groundbreaking initiative known as Workforce Wednesdays, a dynamic series designed to align local educational efforts with the county's thriving industries. Organized in partnership with Caldwell County Economic Development, Caldwell County Schools, and Caldwell Community College & Technical Institution, this program spanned the 2023-2024 academic year. It culminated in a celebratory graduation on June 5, 2024. The initiative aimed to equip educators with firsthand insights into local career opportunities, fostering a deeper connection between schools and the community's economic landscape.

Strengthening Connections: The Workforce Wednesdays Partnership

At the core of Workforce Wednesdays was a powerful partnership between Caldwell County Economic Development, Caldwell County Schools, and Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI). This collaboration sought to inform educators about local job markets and to inspire students to pursue careers within their community.

Reflecting on the program's launch, Ashley Bolick, Economic Development Director of Caldwell County Economic Development, remarked, "We embarked on Workforce Wednesdays with a series of four professional development events tailored for teachers and staff from grades 6-12. We aimed to forge strong connections between our schools and local businesses, enriching the educational landscape and strengthening our community's economic future."

Exploring Caldwell County's Diverse Economic Sectors

Workforce Wednesdays provided participants immersive site tours and training sessions across critical industries throughout the year. These events showcased the operational dynamics of local businesses and the educational pathways available at CCC&TI to prepare students for these careers:

1. Health Sciences and Human & Public Services (September 27, 2023)
The inaugural session focused on public service and healthcare. Participants visited the Caldwell County Complex, including the Sheriff's Office, the new Animal Care facility, and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Later, a session at CCC&TI highlighted healthcare education programs. Bolick reflected, "It was a day overloaded with information for all, but everyone went away saying it was both educational and enlightening."

2. Advanced Manufacturing (November 29, 2023)
This session spotlighted Caldwell County's manufacturing sector. Educators toured Shurtape Technologies and JBS/WildFork, gaining insights into advanced manufacturing processes. A panel discussion with Merchants Distributors, Inc. (MDI) representatives provided additional industry perspectives. CCC&TI's curriculum in advanced manufacturing was showcased, underscoring the college's role in preparing students for these vital local jobs.

3. Construction Trades and Wood & Textile Manufacturing (January 31, 2024)
The January session explored Caldwell's long-standing construction, traditional wood, and textile manufacturing industries. Visits to Bernhardt Furniture and MMI Textiles illustrated the county's expertise in these fields. The day concluded with an overview of CCC&TI's Electrical Lineworker Institute, construction trades, and manufacturing programs, demonstrating how the college supports the region's economic needs.

4. Bio-Pharma and Life Sciences (April 24, 2024)
The final tour in April delved into the emerging bio-pharma and life sciences sectors. Participants visited Exela Pharma Sciences and the bio labs at CCC&TI, gaining insights into cutting-edge opportunities within these fields and the educational paths that lead to them.

Celebrating Success: The Workforce Wednesdays Graduation

On June 5, 2024, the first cohort of Workforce Wednesdays participants celebrated their journey at a graduation ceremony. This event marked the culmination of a transformative experience for the educators, who now possess deeper insights into Caldwell County's economic fabric.

The impact of Workforce Wednesdays has been profound, with teachers and counselors equipped to better guide their students toward fulfilling careers within the local economy. Rick Shew, Associate Dean for Business and Career Services at CCC&TI, who was instrumental in coordinating the program, emphasized the importance of these experiences in preparing students for successful local careers.

Securing Caldwell County's Economic Future

The successful completion of Workforce Wednesdays underscores Caldwell County's commitment to sustaining economic growth by strengthening the link between education and local industry. By fostering these connections, the program ensures that local talent is well-prepared to meet the demands of local businesses, supporting a thriving and interconnected community.

Workforce Wednesdays have set a precedent for how proactive community efforts can create meaningful opportunities, driving economic success and stability in Caldwell County. As the county grows, such initiatives will be crucial in maintaining a robust and resilient workforce.

Are you a local business looking to connect with future talent? An educator seeking to enrich your students' career prospects? Or a community member passionate about economic growth?

Get involved with Caldwell County Economic Development today! Contact us here to learn more about our initiatives and upcoming events and how you can contribute to our mission of fostering a thriving local economy.