Programs seek to build area’s workforce

Published 10:44 pm Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Mid-East Commission continually strives to build eastern North Carolina’s workforce, and more importantly, put people back to work.

As part of the Region Q Workforce Development Board, prospective employees can receive needed training and gain experience through two programs: On-The-Job Training and Work Experience (for ages 16-24).

Lou Stout, business engagement coordinator at Mid-East Commission, said On-The-Job Training is a program designed to offset the business’ cost of training a new employee, while also giving that employee the opportunity to learn new skills.

“We’re able to reimburse the employer a percentage of their wages up to a certain number of hours based on criteria, and that allows the participant to be hired as a full-time employee,” Stout explained.

Employers could be reimbursed for 50 to 75 percent of the wages, with a six-month maximum contract. An employee’s required hours of training is based on the Skills Gap Analysis, according to a press release.

“It’s kind of a win-win because the participant that we have that’s looking for a job that ordinarily wouldn’t have the job … is able to get a full time job,” Stout said. “Most of the full-time jobs come with benefits, so it helps them to gain experience and benefits, and then it helps the employer because we’re supplementing the wages during that training period.”

Amie Bryant, housing manager at Washington Housing Authority, knows the difference On-The-Job Training makes for prospective employees, as she was one herself.

“It has made a stairway for me to reset my goals. I know that I already had five years plus experience in this field, but after a vehicle accident in 2012, I doubted myself just a little,” Bryant said.

By using resources available with the NCWorks Career Center and attending courses at Beaufort County Community College, Bryant said she completed nurse aide and maintenance caseworker courses. She didn’t get the job after first applying to WHA, but the second time was a success.

“OTJ is a door in which I felt was opened for me at a perfect time. It not only gave me the vision of opportunity to get my foot in the door, with my prior experience, it also helps me strive and stay focused on my work,” Bryant said.

Kim Beacham, who works at Oak Ridge Metal Works in Washington, said she also relied on OTJ Training after she lost her job at AAF Flanders Corp. during its consolidation.

“At my age, it’s kind of hard to find a job making, you know, what I was used to making,” Beacham said. “There’s just such a learning curve with it that, you know, it really takes time… It’s been challenging, but it’s been rewarding because it’s fun to learn something new.”

Another program opportunity geared toward younger workers strives to give them needed experience at no cost to the employer, according to Stout.

The Work Experience Program allows prospective workers aged 16-24 the opportunity to complete college classes, and places those workers with a company in their chosen career field, Stout said. In this program, the wages are supplemented 100 percent.

“Once that training period is over, we hope that the employer will then pick him up full time. If there’s still a training gap, then we can put him on (an) On-The-Job Training contract,” she said.

Stout said this is the first year Mid-East Commission is working as the program operator for Work Experience.

She said Mid-East is looking for more employers willing to participate in both of these programs and to let them know about the options available for building their workforce.

For more information about the resources available through Mid-East Commission and the Workforce Development Board, visit, or call Lou Stout at 252-946-8043.