During the county Economic Development Team meeting Wednesday morning, Richmond Community College President Dr. Sharon Morrissey said people aren’t taking advantage of the JobsNOW program.
“We can’t fill the classes,” she said.
Morrissey said RCC has filled the two classes it offers in Scotland County, but to date, haven’t filled a single one on the Richmond County campus.
JobsNOW is a new program run by RCC and the North Carolina Employment Security Commission offering displaced workers a free chance at starting a new career.
“You can get a job in just six months,” Morrissey stressed Wednesday.
The program is designed to train people for jobs as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Early Childhood Education and other service-oriented careers like food service and hospitality, as well as blue-collar jobs like carpentry, plumbing and Industrial Systems Technology (IST).
The program is paid for in full by the ESC for displaced workers through federal stimulus money. It’s open however to anyone who wants to change careers.
While becoming a nursing assistant will cost an individual about $1,500 if they don’t qualify for free enrollment, a yearly wage of about $30,000 will quickly pay off that investment according to RCC Vice President for Continuing Education Richard Garrett.
Other vocational programs like IST can cost a student up to around $2,000 for the training, and yield approximately $50,000 upon completion.
County Manager Rick Sago said with a 14.4 percent unemployment rate in the county, people need to take advantage of this opportunity.
“There’s a shortage in all of these careers and there’s good money to be made,” he said.
The program features 12 certifications for skilled jobs that can be earned in six months. The 12 courses offered in Richmond County are Nursing Assistant I & II, Phlebotomy, Healthcare Billing/Coding, Industrial Systems Technology, Early Childhood Education, Masonry, Plumbing, Carpentry, Welding, Electrical Wiring, and Food Service/Hospitality. Landscaping and Medical Assisting are being offered in Scotland County.
Garrett said Carpentry and Plumbing will be the first programs to begin around the beginning of October, meaning the time to sign up is now.
“There is a lot of opportunity there for people who want start another career,” he said.
He also pointed out there are other programs, such as Work First through the Department of Social Services, that can help students with the expense of enrolling.
ESC JobLink Coordinator Mike Railton said many displaced workers don’t want to depend on the federal assistance for the entire two years it takes to earn an associate’s degree, which is why the JobsNOW program should have such a wide appeal.
“We hear it all the time,” he said. “I don’t have two years to learn what I need to know. I need a job now.”
North Carolina’s economy has been in a state of transition over the last decade and a half from dependence on traditional manufacturing industries to a more service-based economy.
This transition has been felt acutely by the former workers of shutdown mills like Sara Lee and UCO.
After losing their livelihoods, they are now classified as workers displaced by free trade agreements, which qualifies them for federal assistance to return to school and retrain to enter another career field.
“People need to know not to waste time in doing this, we have limited funding for this program,” said ESC Office Manager Judy Carpenter. “These are 12 hot jobs that you can actually get employed in if you’ve been in manufacturing before, with short-term training instead of years of school.”
“The primary goal of this program is to provide people the opportunity to gain skills in six months and to find work,” Garrett said in a press release. “Our department has worked closely with the Richmond County ESC JobLink Career Center and the Pee Dee Region Workforce Development Board to select courses that best meet the needs of our community.”
For more information on how to register, call 410-1700 or 276-3331 or visit www.richmondcc.edu, or the JobLink Center at 997-9180.