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A for-profit higher education company made a presentation at the N.C. legislature Wednesday, in part to make a pitch for the state to establish a central office where businesses can request help meeting their workforce needs.

Scott D’Amico of Apollo Education Group , the parent company for the University of Phoenix, said he conducted a survey of manufacturing businesses, and found that many wished they had more awareness of what the higher education system can do to help train future workers.

D’Amico said he surveyed the companies on behalf of the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, as a way of gauging the needs of North Carolina’s business community.

Though there are many groups in the state that work on issues surrounding training future workers with needed skill sets, many employers are often unaware of those efforts, D’Amico said.

“The manufacturers don’t always hear about this,” he said. “There were a lot of disjointed efforts”

D’Amico’s 12-page presentation (click here to view) at the Senate Workforce and Economic Development committee meeting was met with some skepticism by lawmakers, several of whom pointed out that the state’s community college system and commerce department already work closely with employers.

“Do you not do the same things our community colleges do?,” asked state Sen. Jerry Tillman, an Archdale Republican and an influential member on education issues. “I would hope and expect our chamber would be just as anxious to work with our community colleges.” Read More

Commentary

The North Carolina Senate Workforce and Economic Development Committee has scheduled a meeting for this Wednesday at noon and here is the official description of the agenda:

“Presentation from the NC Chamber and the University of Phoenix about the workforce needs of manufacturing companies around the state.”

You got that? In a state that is home to some of the best public universities and community colleges in the nation (not to mention several expert homegrown workforce and economic development experts), the North Carolina Senate will discuss the workforce needs of the state with a far right, ALEC-inspired anti-tax lobby group and a controversial for-profit, online college.

Next up (at the risk of giving these folks ideas): The Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee discussing the future of the state’s air, land and water with lobbyists for Koch Industries.

Uncategorized

Jobs ImageAs state lawmakers continue to go about the business of overhauling important aspects of state government “on the fly” with complex, last-minute proposals that receive only superficial review in kangaroo committee meetings — see, for example, the Senate’s latest mad effort to privatize the state’s Medicaid system in the waning days of the 2014 session — here’s something new and unusual: an actual thorough and thoughtful report on a critically important and under-reported subject that’s not just a collection of soundbites.

The report, not surprisingly, comes from the good folks at the N.C Budget and Tax Center and it deals with the unsexy but vital subject of how North Carolina rebuilds its middle class. The central finding: We ain’t gonna’ succeed by trying to do it on the cheap and/or relying upon race-to-the-bottom tax cuts and low-wage jobs. This is from the release that accompanied the report this morning: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Earlier this month, the North Carolina Economic Development Board released a new strategic plan for creating jobs and growing the state’s economy over the next decade. The plan listed a number of admirable and important policy goals, including supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, promoting rural prosperity, and strengthening community-level opportunities for economic revitalization.

Unfortunately, last year’s tax cuts and budget cuts have greatly undermined the state’s ability to achieve these goals going forward.

In order to accommodate the $525 million in revenues lost to last year’s tax cut package and still balance the state budget, lawmakers made deep cuts to many core investments—including long-standing state support for nonprofits engaged in economic and community development work.  In the current biennium, the portion of the state budget responsible for these important initiatives—Commerce-State Aid—was cut by $38 million, a 64 percent reduction.

And even this overall reduction masks the true damage to the state’s ability to invest in meeting the new economic development objectives laid out in the strategic plan. The real damage comes from the specific initiatives that were singled out for cuts or outright elimination.

Read More

Uncategorized

In all of the slashing and cutting that’s going on within this budget process, you might have missed a small but important provision to eliminate the Displaced Homemaker Program. It was in the budget adopted by the Senate last month and showed up this morning in the money report from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. Despite the admittedly outdated-sounding name, this program provides important workforce development services to a population with significant barriers to self-sufficiency.

“Displaced homemakers” have traditionally been those who have provided unpaid household services for their homes and families and can’t secure living wage employment because of a lack of training or experience. Examples of today’s displaced homemakers  include an under-employed working parent Read More