Grant to help get local residents get back to work

Jack McDuffie Special to the Journal

November 1, 2013

DUBLIN — Bladen Community College has a received a $120,000 grant through the North Carolina Back-to-Work program that will help area residents get the training they need to return to the workforce.

North Carolina Back-to-Work is a partnership between the state’s Community College System and Department of Commerce. The program provides grants to colleges around the state designed to provide specific short-term training for entry level jobs.

At Bladen Community College, the training plan calls for providing training in three occupational clusters: information technology, manufacturing, and construction trades. The plan also will provide an initial 24-hour human resource development course as well as assessments to earn a Career Readiness Certificate.

BCC Executive Vice President Jeff Kornegay said he believes the program will help the college fulfill what is perhaps its most important goal — to help enable local residents find jobs.

“We are fortunate to have received this grant,” said Kornegay. “It will help us help our residents in these difficult economic times when local unemployment is soaring above 10 percent. Many in our area are out of work. These funds will allow us to provide meaningful training that they can take with them to help them in their job search.”

According to BCC Dean of Engineering and Business Programs Edward Dent, who has responsibility for implementing much of the training, the program will offer credentials in seven areas of information technology and eight construction and manufacturing curriculum areas. Most of the credentials in the construction and manufacturing area are welding related.

Dent said these credentials could significantly help unemployed in the area to find employment.

“Virtually all industries, businesses, and government agencies rely heavily on information technology to conduct business,” said Dent. “Strong information technology is a cornerstone of a successful business in today’s environment. The training we are offering in specific information technology areas will help local residents get their feet in the door in this growing and competitive area.

“Residents interested in working in the construction and manufacturing trades will also get a leg up in their job search with the credentials they earn,” he said. “The credentials we are offering in these areas relate to specific job skills that are in high demand.”

Assistant Vice President for Continuing Education Sondra Guyton, who spearheaded writing of the grant, said the program is available to the unemployed, under-employed earning at or below $22,980 per year, military veterans, and members of the North Carolina National Guard. The program is designed primarily for people who have limited or no access to other forms of financial aid.

Guyton said the grant will pay for tuition, books and certification testing in the skill area. She added that the N.C. Career Readiness Certificate assessment will also be available to grant recipients.

Many employers request that their job applicants be assessed by the Career Readiness Certification program.

For information on the program, call Stephanie Gonzalez at 910.879.5548.