Our first Business Support Services pathway review was held on Tuesday, April 30 in the Gilchrist building on the campus of Elizabeth City State University. Chairman Walter Dorsey sent his regrets for not being able to join us and Dave Whitmer, Northeastern Workforce Board Director provided a welcome and led us through introductions in his stead. Dr. Joy Smith, Dean of Professional Studies and Human Performance welcomed our group to campus. Our featured industry speaker was Caitlin Davis, Director of the Eastern Women’s Entrepreneurship Center at ECSU.
Caitlin shared her success story, having left College of the Albemarle initially only to return after focusing on work for a couple of years. She then completed her studies at COA and started on her first degree from ECSU. Since then she has completed an MBA program and is now close to completing another. Caitlin is applying to doctorate programs now.
Caitlin shared insight on areas where students need more help to be successful, garnered from her experience with the internship program as well as the center she currently serves. She noted that students often lack confidence to pursue the careers they really want and that they lack interview skills and knowledge. Caitlin focused on the importance of using mock interviews to prepare students and discussing things like knowing the location of the interview ahead of time. As Director of the Entrepreneurship center, Caitlin noted that the three areas local businesses seem to need the most assistance in include 1) Finance, 2) Social Media and 3) Graphic Design. She mentioned a great need for graphic and website designers to work in the local area.
Our second speaker was Jerome Shepard, Regional Apprenticeship Coordinator. Jerome is located at Pitt Community College but covers the Northeast region. He works in conjunction with ApprenticeshipNC. Jerome brings years of industry expertise to this role, having been a plant manager who utilized apprenticeship in his previous work. He noted that apprenticeship is used to build a competitive workforce, is a time-tested model (used heavily in Europe for many years) and is adaptable and flexible. Jerome shared information about some upcoming local apprenticeships, including a collaboration between Beaufort County Community College, Beaufort County Schools and local industries based on a model out of Guilford County. He also mentioned the Tradesformers Consortium based in Pitt County to apprentice tradespeople specifically in the Electrical and HVAC industries. Jerome noted that “partnerships are the key to making this happen.”
During this meeting, Wendy Petteway (CTE Director, Beaufort County Schools) led a review of our Business Support Services pathways and the group made suggestions for changes needed. It was noted that changes to Perkins next year would require use to make major changes to all of our pathways. We are still working to update the templates and will share those once the current changes are implemented. Once the Perkins related changes take effect, we will review these again. If you have suggestions for changes to any of the three pathways under BSS, please email Brandi by Friday, May 10.
Lastly, we discussed the results of the partnership survey which was shared last month. We had 60 respondents from a variety of stakeholders. We got some great feedback about what Pathways related activities are most valuable to our partners, and where they want to see us move towards in the future. Due to funding concerns, we may have to restructure our partnership, and this information will help. You can view the results in the powerpoint (BSS Review, below) from the event.
Thanks to all who were able to join us!