BCCC receives jobs grant

Published 12:28 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Students at Beaufort County Community College, including many who are dislocated workers, will benefit from a $2.2 million jobs grant that will pay for technology upgrades and new equipment for industry-related programs at the college, according to BCCC President David McLawhorn.

“BCCC is very excited about the chance to improve the campus learning environment, particularly for those students who are seeking new careers,” McLawhorn said. “There are job opportunities in eastern North Carolina for those with the appropriate skills, and this grant will help our students learn the skills they need for those jobs.”

The funds will help BCCC build programs that meet the needs of local industries and improve Internet and technology-based learning, McLawhorn said.

The grant includes the following: $771,319 to improve technology at BCCC, including improvements in the campus wireless network; $564,192 to create “intelligent classrooms” linked to online teacher resources across the campus; $370,000 for a robotic welder and other equipment for the college’s welding programs; $76,000 in equipment for BCCC’s electrical and electronic engineering technology programs and $65,708 for an emergent-technology laboratory that will give students exposure to the latest in work-related technology as it is developed, McLawhorn said.

The goal of the technological improvements at BCCC is “to enable a student who is training for a new career — and not familiar with today’s technology — to graduate with the skills to work in a new economy in jobs that require a knowledge of that technology,” he said.

The BCCC grant is one of nearly $19 million in grants awarded to 10 community colleges across North Carolina for job training and work-force development announced earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

BCCC joined with community colleges in Buncombe, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Edgecombe, Haywood, Nash, Robeson and Surry counties to create the N.C. Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, which is responsible for implementing programs funded by the grant.

The alliance, headed by officials at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, includes area industries, work-force development boards and Apple Inc. The alliance has targeted for help those workers who have been affected by jobs lost in recent years as North Carolina-based industries have moved their operations to other countries.

The alliance estimates that some 5,730 workers in 17 counties served by the 10 community colleges have lost their jobs during a three-year period from 2007 to 2010 as industries have moved to China, Mexico, Canada, Honduras, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

Community colleges in the alliance plan to assess, train and certify the skills of some 2,300 students whose jobs have been lost.

Two Beaufort County industries — Carver Machine Works and PotashCorp Aurora — have pledged to work with BCCC to provide resources, internships and jobs, as they become available, to students who complete job training through the program.

“At PotashCorp, if we’re going to meet the challenge of feeding the world, we’re going to need talented and skilled people to make it happen,” said PotashCorp Aurora general manager Steve Beckel. “We’re pleased to partner with BCCC in this program and hope that students participating in it will emerge having a renewed sense of hope and direction, as well as the skills and self-confidence to step back into the work world.”

“We’re delighted to hear that the North Carolina Advanced Manufacturing Alliance was successful in obtaining the TAACCCT grant,” said Carver Machine Works plant manager Lindsey Crisp. “Technical training on cutting edge manufacturing processes is the key ingredient of a qualified work force.  These funds will help Beaufort Community College prepare the workforce for the future and allow companies in eastern North Carolina to remain competitive in a global economy. This grant award speaks volumes about the educators at the community college and the effectiveness of their leadership.”

PotashCorp Aurora and Carver Machine Works are two of the 35 business and industries that have agreed to participate in the training program.