COVID-19 exacerbated existing shortages in the labor market, causing business leaders to revise corporate strategies designed to recruit and retain the workforce needed to compete in at the state, national, and global level. We must recognize and support the critical role our community colleges serve in meeting employers’ post-pandemic workforce demands if we are to close the skills gap in the current labor market.
Historically, North Carolina has benefited from a growing economy, establishing the state as a global competitor for attracting businesses and nurturing economic expansion. A report published by MyFuture NC, however, indicates that North Carolina’s educational strategy requires immediate attention. The state risks falling short of its goal of producing an additional 2,000,000 workers with high-quality degrees or credentials by 2030, with a projected shortfall of 31,000 individuals, according to the MyFuture NC report. The same study determined that North Carolina would need 74,704 additional workers to achieve its labor force participation goals by 2030.
This essay focuses on how community colleges can lead in providing the education and training needed to close the skills gap between existing and future high-demand careers.