Regional Meeting Series Furthers NC Educational Attainment Goal
With the ever-evolving economy, employers need a highly skilled workforce, and a high school diploma is just the first step along the path to a family-sustaining career. But today, only about half of North Carolina’s workers have obtained a high-quality degree or credential beyond their high school diploma.
The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University and myFutureNC convened a series of local leadership meetings during the summer and fall of 2022 to create future opportunities for collaboration among local leaders to increase educational attainment in their communities.
The meetings were held in collaboration with statewide partners including the NC Association of Workforce Development Boards, the NC Association of County Commissioners, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and the North Carolina City and County Management Association, as well as a group of regional partners including 14 regional councils of government and all local workforce development boards.
At these meetings, local public sector leaders, representatives from the business community and local educational leadership reviewed county-specific attainment data, learned about potential actions to improve the workforce, and heard updates about support from myFutureNC and successful efforts underway in their communities. More than 300 attendees from 87 NC counties identified potential areas for focused action in their own communities.
“While the work is being state led, it must be locally owned and driven,” said Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC. “Regional convenings, co-hosted by myFutureNC and North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues, helped to drive awareness and provided a space for cross-sector conversations at the local levels. Collectively, these efforts will help to achieve our state’s attainment goal of two million industry-valued credentials or postsecondary degrees among North Carolinians ages 25-44 by 2030.”
Toni Blount, Regional Impact Manager at myFutureNC, described how the educational attainment meetings furthered the momentum already existing in those regions. Specifically, there have been new endorsements of the statewide attainment goal from local organizations like chambers and county commissions, new requests to engage at the local level, a deeper appreciation for the possibilities of regional collaboration on educational attainment, and the potential for future value as myFutureNC follows up with participants. Attendee evaluations of the meetings strongly point to increases in both awareness and, coming out of the meetings, a willingness to act.
“The IEI meetings were a successful approach to bringing county level education-workforce leaders into a room to discuss data and county level potential solutions. Follow up meetings have occurred in multiple counties, and connections are still continuing,” said Blount.