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North Carolina Workforce Development Leadership Initiative Launches This Fall

Man and woman sitting at a table, working on an NC State laptop

RALEIGH, NC—Units across NC State University, in collaboration with the NCWorks Commission and the NC Association of Workforce Development Boards, will launch the NC Workforce Development Leadership Initiative this fall. Workforce development is an essential component of a community’s economic development efforts, and stronger collaboration between workforce and economic developers will lead to more resilient communities. With initial support provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the initiative will prepare attendees to participate on and lead workforce development boards, engage with economic developers, and create initiatives that will further the entire community.

“Strengthening our workforce is essential to continuing our economic success, as North Carolina’s ‘First in Talent’ plan emphasizes,” said North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, who is also a member of the NCWorks Commission. “In keeping with our state’s tradition of collaboration and leadership in talent development, the innovative North Carolina Workforce Development Leadership Initiative will provide a diverse group of professionals from various backgrounds with the knowledge they need to move their communities forward.”

“The NCWorks Commission looks forward to partnering with NC State University to support the new leadership initiative,” said Tom Rabon, chair of the Commission. “Our state will benefit when we have more leaders who are well-versed in the connections between building a job-ready workforce, meeting employers’ talent needs and growing our economy.”

The workforce development field requires strong leaders who understand the economic conditions of their community and their state to leverage the skills and capacity for economic opportunities as they emerge. The Workforce Development Leadership Initiative provides training, education and resources for these workforce development leaders throughout North Carolina.

“A successful workforce development leadership program must focus on the skill attainment of the leaders,” said Rodney Carson, President of the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards (NCAWDB). “We are excited that the NC Workforce Development Leadership Initiative will provide education to our future workforce leaders that will help guide the policies, principles, and priorities for workforce development for the State of North Carolina and beyond.”

The NC Workforce Development Leadership Initiative is an intensive, six-month professional training program, with classes beginning in October 2022. The curriculum is comprised of four instructional courses, each of which include 12 contact hours in the classroom. Graduates of the program receive the professional designation of Certified Workforce Developer (CWD). The initiative is housed in NC State University’s Municipal Research Lab, led by Bruce McDonald, Ph.D. The inaugural participants of the initiative will be members of a peer-learning cohort led by NC State’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI). Other partners within NC State include the Economic Development Partnership and the NC State Continuing and Lifelong Education.

“We are thrilled to provide this much-needed workforce development leadership training that will help to create more resilient communities,” said NC State Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “It’s an excellent example of how our institution is expanding and advancing our engagement with and service to North Carolina and beyond.”

To learn more and apply to participate in the IEI’s peer-learning community cohort and NC Workforce Development Leadership Initiative, visit To learn more about the initiative, visit


About the NC State University Municipal Research Lab

The Municipal Research Lab, located in the School of Public and International Affairs at North Carolina State University, conducts research on and provides assistance to local governments throughout North Carolina. By helping to address the challenging questions that have no readily available answers, the goal of the lab is to help small communities revitalize and reestablish their economic footing.

About the Institute for Emerging Issues

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University is a nonpartisan public policy organization focused on the state’s vibrancy and economic competitiveness. Since 1986, the Emerging Issues Forum has attracted leaders in business, education and public policy to discuss issues with profound implications for North Carolina’s future prosperity. For nearly four decades, the Forum has helped catalyze the policy reforms, public investments and other proactive responses required to build an enduring capacity for progress in North Carolina.

About the NCWorks Commission

The NCWorks Commission recommends policies and strategies that enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy. The Commission is designated as the state’s Workforce Development Board under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Led by a private sector chair, the 37-member Commission includes representatives from the business community, heads of state workforce agencies, educators, and community leaders.

About the NC Association of Workforce Development Boards

The NC Association of Workforce Development Boards (NCAWDB) is the voice for workforce development in North Carolina. Composed of 22 local workforce boards with over 500 members, the Association is dedicated to enhancing North Carolina’s workforce by supporting local workforce development boards statewide. Association members are led by private sector businesses and employers, which make up over 51% of the membership. These local workforce development boards, along with partners through NCWorks, help advance the needs of workers and employers in North Carolina.

About the Economic Development Administration

The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s investment policy is designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. This foundation builds upon two key economic drivers – innovation and regional collaboration. Innovation is key to global competitiveness, new and better jobs, a resilient economy, and the attainment of national economic goals. Regional collaboration is essential for economic recovery because regions are the centers of competition in the new global economy and those that work together to leverage resources and use their strengths to overcome weaknesses will fare better than those that do not. EDA encourages its partners around the country to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions.