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  • Writer's pictureCameron Cochran

Identifying Workforce Programs

Posted March 27, 2012

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer

Wilson 20/20 Planning Survey; Moving Toward Hiring Employee

Wilson 20/20 is moving ahead with one of its goals of improving workforce development efforts in the community.

Workforce development is aimed at reducing unemployment, reducing the number of vacant jobs in the community, increasing the number of people receiving a high school diploma or GED and improving the graduation rate.

Wilson 20/20 recently decided to initiate a survey that will identify programs already in place and determine if there is overlap or gaps in workforce development. Making sure children and adults are prepared for the workforce will only improve economic development efforts in the Wilson area, said Jennifer Lantz, executive director of the Wilson Economic Development Council.

“They will be helping the workforce as a whole and it will help us in attracting new clients,” Lantz said. “Our workforce is very trainable but what’s lacking is knowledge about what an industry wants and expects.”

Basic skills are needed in such areas as critical thinking, math and map reading. Potential employees with critical thinking skills and excitement about a job usually leads to getting hired, Lantz said.

Wilson 20/20’s planned assessment, with the goal of improving the area workforce, will bring benefits in years to come.

“I’m in favor of anything that improves the workforce,” Lantz said. “The most important thing to me is the exercise we’re undertaking that will put us in better shape in the long run.”

The Wilson 20/20 Vision Board of Directors decided during its meeting this month to pay for a survey that will assess and identify programs and activities that focus on workforce development in the Wilson area, said Tom Curran, executive director of Wilson 20/20.

The survey will include a gap analysis to determine what is lacking, where there is a duplication of service and training and where improvements can be made.

The cost of the survey is undetermined but, eventually, a full-time employee may be needed to focus Wilson 20/20’s efforts on workforce development, Curran said. A workforce development council will also be involved in the effort.

“The only way to do this long-term is there would have to be a contract or full-time employee,” Curran said.

The employee, or program coordinator, would focus on several areas identified by Wilson 20/20 that include compiling and analyzing successful workforce development programs; obtaining information and researching projects with local information; building consensus around benchmarks; analyzing gaps in current services; developing strategies and action plans; implementing activities and monitoring success; integrating funding sustainability; and promoting community awareness, supporting activities and campaigns.

Some of the tangible ways to determine if progress is being made is whether the number of vacant jobs in the area are reduced, decreasing the unemployment rate, increasing the number of adults age 24 and over who have a GED or high school diploma, increasing Career Readiness Certificates and increasing the graduation rate.

The workforce development survey is the first step toward Wilson 20/20’s goals. The main goals of Wilson 20/20 this year are to improve collaboration between community groups, improve education and workforce development and improve the economy and the quality-of-life for area residents.

Wilson 20/20 is composed of a group of community leaders from different disciplines who are working on areas identified as important by Wilson residents for the future of the city and county. Wilson 20/20 held a series of meetings several years ago that led to goals of how residents want Wilson County to develop by the year 2020.

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