CPCC, partners receive grant to boost Charlotte-area IT skills

last modified Feb 24, 2012 02:52 PM

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and partners – Siemens Energy, Novant Health, IBM, Business Control Systems, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Workforce Development Board (Charlotte Works), Centralina Workforce Development Board, North Carolina Technology Association – have been awarded a $5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for a regional effort to strengthen the information technology skills of workers.

CPCC will administer the grant and direct the “Regional Effort to Advance Charlotte Information Technology” or “REACH IT” initiative. REACH IT will use two training strategies over a four-year period to enhance and advance the skills of Charlotte-area IT workers: 1) customized training for incumbent workers, many of which may already have a college degree, and 2) targeted certification training for the long-term unemployed.

The REACH IT initiative has the potential to impact more than 2,500 workers currently employed in IT positions and persons who have been unemployed for an extended period.

“CPCC is thrilled to partner with area employers, workforce investment boards and the North Carolina Technology Association on the REACH IT initiative,” said Dr. Tony Zeiss, CPCC president. “A highly trained IT workforce is essential to the economy of the Charlotte region. The REACH IT project and DOL award will advance CPCC’s efforts to work closely with industry partners to raise the technical skills of our regional workforce – allowing both our long-term unemployed and incumbent workers opportunities to upgrade their skills for the high-tech, high-growth workplace.”

The CPCC group competed with universities, community organizations, national organizations and other community colleges from across the nation for the Department of Labor (DOL) funding. The REACH IT award is part of $183 million designated by Congress to raise the technical skill levels of American workers over time and help businesses reduce their need for overseas talent.

“The public-private partnership assembled in the Charlotte region makes the REACH IT initiative somewhat unique,” explained Michael Horn, CPCC associate vice president for government relations and grants. “The program will provide skills training to the long-term unemployed while strengthening the skills of incumbent IT workers of our diverse industry partners at Siemens, IBM, Novant Health and Business Control Systems.

“The goal of the REACH IT partnership is to strengthen our region’s IT skill base across industry sectors, creating new jobs and career advancement opportunities,” Horn said.

CPCC will work with its workforce development partners to recruit long-term unemployed participants for the program and provide career counseling and job placement services. Additionally, the College will develop new courses and training materials in network security and business intelligence. Finally, grant funds will be used for scholarships to cover tuition costs for program participants and provide instructors with professional development opportunities to stay current with IT industry trends.

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.