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Youth in Brunswick County are often raised with goals of attending college after high school and establishing themselves as a successful businessperson. Many youth dream of remaining in Brunswick County as adults and raising families of their own.
But too often, these youth can’t find suitable work in the county to sustain their dreams. The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center recognized the issue and is working to put a stop to this phenomenon throughout the state. The goal is to involve youth and young adults in economic and civic life.
One of the organization’s initiatives is called New Generations Careers. The program is designed to assist in the development of locally based strategies to train and place rural young people between the ages of 18 and 30 in high-demand career fields. The idea is to build on collaborations among workforce development agencies, the business community and nonprofits.
“This is the first year the rural center has administered these grants,” said Susanne Adams, president of BCC. “We are first-year pilots. It is important they see success and us, too.”
Brunswick Community College is recipient of a New Generations grant in the amount of $100,000 for an 18-month project. BCC is to train more than 50 young adults and place 40 jobs in Brunswick County. The project is collaboration between BCC and Brunswick Housing Opportunities Inc. and will focus on career development in health care, industrial and vehicle maintenance and green housing construction.
“We want to bring our young people back to Brunswick County to stay,” said Velva Jenkins, assistant vice president of economic and workforce development. “There are so many high school and college graduates who have come back to Brunswick County and want to stay but can’t find an opportunity to work.”
BCC was selected as one of 30 community college applicants for their innovativeness in creating job opportunities and the overwhelming commitment from area industries that was demonstrated.
“We had to find a perfect fit for Brunswick County,” Jenkins said. “We looked for the need in the community and the opportunity for jobs.”
BCC partnered with Brunswick Housing Opportunities.
“We have worked with them in the past, and we know their track record,” Jenkins said. “We knew the way they connect with the community. They are the boots on the ground and they know the people in need.”
The New Generations program at BCC is set up with youth as the driving force behind the project.
“The youth will be advising us as to where the needs are and what skills they are lacking. We will be getting constant feedback,” Jenkins said.
BCC leadership will attend a training/information session in August, and the program will officially get started on the BCC campus during the fall. The focus will be to train youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 for jobs in healthcare, construction and weatherization industries. Students will be equipped with foundational skills, human resource skills and specific career path skills. They will have a mentor throughout the entire process.
At the end of training, students will receive help finding a job. BCC will follow up with students one year later for further assessment of the program and needs of students. The majority of the career pathways are six months or less.
“It is all about taking individuals who grew up in Brunswick County and giving them the opportunity to work and live here,” Jenkins said. “The young adults are the value. There wouldn’t be a program without them. We’ve got a group of young adults who want to live here, work here and raise a family here.”
The program is accepting students who grew up in Brunswick County and are between the ages of 18 and 30. Any level of education is eligible to participate. Students may obtain their GED while working a career pathway. Certifications earned by students are transportable out of state.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in your life or career. There is always a place for you at BCC,” said Joanna Minett, marketing and public information officer. “The program is investing full circle back into Brunswick County.”
Rachel Johnsonis a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email@example.com.