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Forum Resources

Select resources and recordings from the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum, Talent First Economics

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Session Recordings & Slides


NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson and Institute for Emerging Issues Director Sarah Langer Hall open the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum.

Beyond the Vacancy: Why Working Matters

Institute for Emerging Issues Practitioner in Residence Philip Cooper and NC Works Commission Executive Director Annie Izod discuss why working matters and introduce the Talent First Task Force.

The Labor Shortage

Presenter: Laura Dawson Ullrich, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Laura Dawson Ullrich, senior regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, discusses the labor shortage.

Breakout: Disability/Neurodiversity

Presenter: Oleksandr Movchan, NC LEAD

Breakout: Families with Young Children

Presenter: Neil Harrington, NC LEAD

Breakout: Justice-Involved

Presenter: Andrew Berger-Gross, NC LEAD

Breakout: Opportunity Youth

Presenter: Jonathan Guarine, NC LEAD

Breakout: Transitioning Military and their Families

Presenter: Joshua Levy, NC LEAD

Unleashing Our Total Talent

Members of the Talent First Economics Task Force discuss the work of the task force and issues faced by the five groups they represented.

Spotlight #1: Connecting Older Adult Workers

Presenter: Mindy Feldbaum, AARP Foundation

Mindy Feldbaum with the AARP Foundation joined Twilla Chavis Allen and Med Leggette from the Lumber River Council of Government to talk about connecting older workers to meaningful employment.

Spotlight #2: Connecting Connecting Bilingual & Bicultural Workers

Presenter: Carlos Cotto, Lenoir Community College

Moderator Hannah McClellan with Education NC joins Carlos Cotto with Lenoir Community College, Roman Racheco Avila with Sears and Alejandra Velazquez to discuss programs that have a positive impact connecting bilingual and bicultural workers to meaningful employment.

Talent First Economics

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper discussed how North Carolina leaders are working to advance workforce development on the statewide level.

Spotlight #3: Connecting Rural Workers

Presenter: LeClair Boone, NC Tech Paths

Moderator LeClair Boone with NC Tech Paths joined Dahntay Choate, Tonya Ellison and Hope Shurba with Lowes Companies, Inc. to discuss connecting rural workers to meaningful employment.

Investing in Our Total Talent

Presenter: Michael Grossman, Social Finance

Connecting, engaging and growing a skilled workforce, especially among those who have historically faced barriers to employment, requires new partnerships, investments and expectations that consider the unique needs of the people and communities they seek to serve. Panelists discuss these partnerships, investments and expectations.

Transforming the Workforce Ecosystem

New America Better Life Lab Director Brigid Schulte
Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise Chief Economist Gerald Cohen
The Industrial Commons Co-Executive Director Sara Chester
myFutureNC President and CEO Cecilia Holden

In an increasingly global, mobile and diverse economy, thriving workplaces of the future will place less emphasis on competition for talent and more on collectively addressing what’s not working for workers in the first place. Speakers highlight real-world examples of how removing barriers is good for business.

Sector Innovation

This session highlights examples of companies in different sectors thinking beyond the workforce needs of today and moving toward workforce transformation.

Closing: Change Agents Unite

Closing session of the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum.

Program Recommendations for Older Workers, Bilingual/Bicultural Workers and Rural Workers

Provided by participants of the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum

Programs Connecting Older Workers

Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments’ Area Agency on AgingPerson, Granville, Vance, Franklin, and Warren CountyThe Kerr Tar Area Agency on Aging focuses on its partnership efforts as a means of leveraging a quality continuum of support for the region’s older adults. They lead, develop and enhance community based services, opportunities and protections for older adults, persons with disabilities and family caregivers to empower them to live independent, healthy and improved quality of lives in their community of choice for as long as possible.
Back to Work 50+AARP;
NC Locations in Raleigh & Durham
Back to Work for ages 50+ provides unemployed older workers with a suite of tools and coaching resources to help them compete with confidence for today’s high quality in-demand jobs. Offers free workshops on the strategies you need to compete for full-time, in-demand jobs. Workshop participants can also apply for their free coaching program offering skills training, job search guidance and more.
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)Various LocationsSCSEP places economically disadvantaged adults ages 55+ into part-time community service assignments which assists them in transitioning into unsubsidized employment. SCSEP enables them to acquire job skills and work experience by training 20hrs per week in non-profit and governmental agencies while they receive a training stipend for their efforts. The program also provides other opportunities for professional growth and development through educational workshops and internships.
WAGES Foster Grandparent ProgramWayne & Wilson CountyThe WAGES Foster Grandparent Program provides meaningful and challenging volunteer opportunities for seniors ages 55+. Foster Grandparents support the future by serving as mentors, tutors, and caregivers to special needs children. Foster Grandparents volunteer at least 20 hours per week. Eligible volunteers may receive a tax-free hourly stipend.
WAGES Senior Companion ProgramWayne & Wilson CountyThe WAGES Senior Companion Program provides meaningful and challenging volunteer opportunities for seniors ages 55+. Senior Companions help older adults live independently in their own homes and provide respite services to enable caregivers to have some much needed time off. Senior Companions assist with daily tasks such as light meal preparation, light housekeeping, monitoring medications, as well as accompanying clients to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. Senior Companions volunteer at least 20 hours per week. Eligible volunteers may receive a tax-free hourly stipend.
Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) ProgramVarious LocationsThe SEE program provides an opportunity for retired and unemployed Americans ages 55+ to share their expertise with the U.S. EPA, remaining active using their matured skills in meaningful tasks that support a wide variety of environmental programs. Full-time and part-time SEE enrollees contribute in many ways to help EPA improve the environment through professional, technical, and clerical pathways.
Asheville 50+ Works Experienced Workforce Initiative (EWI)AshevilleEWI supports and promotes the engagement of adults ages 50+ in both the volunteer and workforce continuum, from volunteer work to stipend-based training, part-time and full-time employment, and entrepreneurship in Asheville and Western North Carolina. EWI also includes the Digital Literacy Network to provide technology navigators for those under the digital divide.

Programs Connecting Bilingual & Bicultural Workers

NC Society of Hispanic ProfessionalsAcross NCNCSHP promotes the education of Hispanic students at all scholastic levels. By connecting Hispanic students to educational pathways, the NCSHP is able to bridge the gap between the Hispanic community and the labor market.
Telamon CorporationVarious LocationsWorkforce & Career Services creates hope and prepares people of all ages for more competitive jobs. For customers who want to identify more promising career paths that fit their skills and interests. We serve youth, migrants, seasonal farmworkers, and low-income individuals.

Programs Connecting Rural Workers & Cross-Cutting Programs

Golden LEAF Foundation’s Workforce Preparedness ProgramsVarious LocationsGolden LEAF supports workforce projects that help close the skills gap and increase the pool of highly qualified individuals with skills aligned to North Carolina businesses’ current and future needs. They fund projects that demonstrate a market demand for skilled workers and aim at developing skill sets required by businesses looking to locate or expand in rural communities.
Investments Supporting Partnerships In Recovery Ecosystems (INSPIRE) InitiativeAppalachian Regional Commission (ARC)The INSPIRE Initiative addresses the substance abuse disorder crisis across Appalachia by creating or expanding a recovery ecosystem that will lead to workforce entry or re-entry. Successful projects will support the post-treatment to employment continuum, which could include investments in healthcare networks that support SUD recovery professionals, recovery-focused job training programs, as well as initiatives designed to coordinate, or link, recovery services and training that support the recovery to work ecosystem, among others.
Lewiston Woodville Educational Vitality CenterLewiston Woodville, NCThe Roanoke-Chowan Community College College and Career Readiness team offers basic skills, computer, and high school equivalency diploma (formerly GED) classes in Lewiston Woodville at the new Educational Vitality Center. The center recently opened as a community resource and education center and is a public-private partnership between the Bertie County Hive House and the town of Lewiston-Woodville.
Volt Center at Craven Community CollegeCraven CountyCraven Community College’s Volt Center serves as their workforce development center, offering hands-on learning programs in various trades. Trade areas include carpentry, HVAC, hospitality, diesel systems technology, and much more!
North Carolina Manufacturing InstituteRowan, Cabarrus, and Iredell CountyThe North Carolina Manufacturing Institute is specially designed to link and leverage the existing assets of Rowan, Cabarrus, and Iredell counties to solve a growing gap between regional job seekers and available positions. Manufacturing firms will benefit from partnering with the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute through access to a pipeline of screened, trained, certified production technicians who can help them achieve their business goals.
Triad Career ConnectPiedmont TriadThe Triad Career Connect (TCC) serves as a bridge between talent needs of employers and career exposure needs of youth. Together with regional employers, community colleges and school systems, TCC develops the course curriculum. The TCC program provides a pathway to a career through both education and work experience opportunities.
Life Works, Community Action OpportunitiesAsheville, NCLife Works helps individuals obtain full-time, living wage jobs so they can move out of poverty and obtain economic security. Participants are typically in the program one to three years. During this time, they work with their Life Works Coach, setting goals and addressing barriers while focusing on education/training and financial capabilities.
Inclusive Hiring Partners, Asheville Area Chamber of CommerceBuncombe CountyInclusive Hiring Partners is a resource to close the opportunity gap by connecting Buncombe County residents experiencing significant barriers to employment with available jobs in growing industries. Local employer partners are in manufacturing, health care, construction, and local government industries and range from multinational companies with hundreds of local employees to small, family-owned businesses. All employer partners offer guaranteed interviews.
Charlotte WorksMecklenburg CountyThrough programs and partnerships with service providers across the county, Charlotte Works ensures that job seekers have access to opportunities, and have the skills employers need. Charlotte Works oversees the NCWorks Career Centers and NextGen Youth programs and administers the Working Smart essential skills curriculum for job seekers.
StepUp DurhamDurham CountyStepUp Durham provides pathways to employment and life skills training for residents of Durham County. Through their various programs, StepUp Durham works to make the people of Durham County more financially stable.
Made in Durham’s BULLS InitiativeDurham CountyThe BULLS Initiative is a program that works to provide training, certifications, and full scholarships to young adults interested in pursuing a career in Durham’s life sciences industry.
Bio Jobs HubAcross NCBio Jobs Hub, powered by NCBiotech, is a statewide resource connecting participants to training and job opportunities in the life sciences industry.

Businesses and Organizations that Uplift Older, Bilingual/Bicultural and Rural Workers Across NC

N.C. Cooperative ExtensionEach County in NC
Harris Teeter SupermarketsVarious Locations
Sandhills Cooperation AssociationMontgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond, and Stanly County