North Carolina’s industry growth trends have shifted from relatively high-wage manufacturing industries to low-wage occupations such as food preparation, and home health – work that pays as little as $10 per hour. If left unchecked, this trend will lead the state down a path that harms workers’ abilities to find decent-paying jobs and one that discourages industries requiring a skilled labor force from locating or expanding in the state.
A new report by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center (BTC) examines Career Pathways – education and training programs that enable individuals to secure work or advance within a high-demand industry – as a concrete tool to help change the trajectory of North Carolina’s job growth and to create opportunities for workers to build job skills and secure upwardly mobile job opportunities.
Career Pathways facilitate transition from high school to community college and from community college to university and/or employment and can provide credentialed training paths in specific high-growth occupations. Career pathway programs already established in the state, for instance, have focused on such sectors as health care and weatherization.
If North Carolina is going to create good jobs and a stronger economy, investing in career pathways should be part of the framework.