A new toolkit is now available to align North Carolina’s rapidly changing workforce with the K-12 public education system. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt joined the NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido to unveil a new Employer Toolkit. This project is the latest partnership between the two, and a follow-up to the 2022 launch of “The Year of the Workforce,” where the NC Department of Public Instruction rolled out four workforce goals at the NC Chamber Foundation and published its workforce development website.
This toolkit is specific to employers and industry partners and created in response to reoccurring questions from the business community often posed to both Superintendent Truitt and Salamido. The toolkit aims to answer questions like “How can business get connected with schools?” “Where and how do business leaders begin engaging schools?” “How can employers begin an internship or youth apprenticeship program with a school?”
“We know that one of the most important issues facing employers today is their future workforce,” said Truitt. “By engaging with employers and creating a resource that shows how they can partner with schools and connect with students, we are better able to match employer needs with North Carolina’s public-school students - our future workforce. Ultimately, I want our students to be academically prepared and technically trained with the durable skills needed to succeed at any company, in every career, in college or the military. A fundamental way we accomplish this is through working directly with business and industry to ensure we’re helping students explore, engage and experience jobs of the future with potential employers.”
The toolkit was built in response to a survey sent to NC Chamber members. The survey identified where businesses were successfully connecting with schools and posed questions to identify priorities for future engagement. The number one request from respondents was the creation of an employer-focused toolkit featuring resources and opportunity to connect with schools.
“As the nation's top state for business, North Carolina boasts an incredibly diverse, innovative business community,” said Meredith Archie, president of the NC Chamber Foundation. “Making K-12 students aware of the opportunities available to them following graduation is a critical component to a strong workforce. We are excited to collaborate with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction to provide employers with a toolkit to build these connections in their communities.”
The toolkit provides concrete examples as to how businesses and industry can partner with elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) and high school (9-12) students in age-appropriate ways through concepts of “awareness,” “exploration” and “experience.” For example, businesses seeking to engage high school-aged students should look to provide experiential learning opportunities such as offering career coaching, designing service-learning opportunities, or offering internships and/or youth apprenticeships. For businesses hoping to work with middle school students, their engagement should be focused on exploration so that students can learn more about multiple career pathways. Local and regional businesses could offer an offsite field trip, a summer experience, participation in a career expo, or a job shadowing opportunity. For businesses interested in connecting with a nearby elementary school, engagement is about awareness, so students have a chance to explore careers through classroom guest speakers or science fair opportunities.
Included in the toolkit is a “Tools and Next Steps” section where businesses can use the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) navigator – a tool that brings together members of business, education and workforce development communities. Within this toolkit is a form that businesses can complete and select their interests in terms of how they wish to engage with schools. Upon completion of the form, they will be connected with NCDPI to make contact with a school system.
Best practices videos are also included in the toolkit, with a spotlight on how districts like Union County Public Schools, Durham Public Schools, and Wilkes County Schools partnered with Carolina CAT, GlaxoSmithKline and Atrium Health respectively. These examples showcase how employers are syncing with schools to provide students with real world work experiences.
Since its 2022 Year of the Workforce, NCDPI has launched several tools aimed at increasing alignment with the business community, including the NC Portrait of a Graduate, designed to ensure that students are equipped with in-demand durable skills upon graduation, and the K12 Workforce Toolkit, geared towards parents and students to help them learn more about career pathways available to them during their educational journey.
Interested in workforce? Stay connected with the NC Chamber Foundation’s Institute of Workforce Readiness.