A story earlier this month in The Daily Record was a good reminder of just how important Central Carolina Community College is to Harnett County’s economy.
The headline was “CCCC assisting Champion Homes with innovative training plan.”
We all know the community college trains workers, but we might not understand the extent to which it seeks to enable people to get good jobs right here in Harnett County. By doing so, the college is meeting two needs at once: It is training people to get good jobs while also helping our businesses to succeed by making sure they have the trained workers they need to keep operating.
In this case, Champion Homes in Lillington needs people. “I have an immediate need for 50 employees,” said general manager Jim Johnson, “and have an empty plant sitting right next to me where I could put another 200 employees, if I could only get the workforce.”
He says Champion offers a good middle-class wage with paid holidays, vacation, medical and 401(k) plans. And the homes they build are manufactured in a safe, indoor environment.
Still, it’s difficult for the company to recruit enough workers. So CCCC got to work on the problem.
The first goal was to help interested workers quickly develop the broader skills needed in the construction industry. To do that, CCCC Continuing Education worked with the National Center for Construction Education and Research to create CCCC’s new Skilled Trades Academy, a short-term credentialing program that teaches general construction skills — including core construction techniques, safety procedures, drawing interpretation and related topics.
CCCC Industry Training Director Cathy Swindell says this kind of training makes local graduates attractive to the entire construction industry.
Now, the college has finalized plans to provide customized training to prepare new employees for the specific kind of work Champion requires to produce manufactured housing. That phase of the project will begin in the coming months, as students emerge from the Skilled Trades Academy with their new construction credentials.
This kind of customized training will enable Champion Homes to thrive here for years to come. It will also make Harnett even more attractive to other manufacturers looking to relocate.
As tuition continues to climb at traditional four-year universities, community colleges become more attractive to a growing number of people. In Harnett, we’re fortunate to have both a great university – Campbell University – and CCCC. And both are focusing on programs that will enable their graduates to be quickly employed.
Campbell’s new programs in medicine, nursing and engineering, for example, are hallmarks of phenomenal growth there.
And as the recent CCCC story illustrated, the community college is also making a great contribution. We are grateful for how it can target training to aid specific Harnett employers and their workers. We are grateful that because of CCCC’s efforts, more people will be able to find good jobs right here in Harnett County.