MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina must align job training with industry needs to produce high-skill workers for the future

More than 60 percent of jobs in the state will require post-secondary education as early as 2020

RALEIGH (October 24, 2012) – In order to ensure workers have skills for employment in high-growth, high-wage industries as North Carolina moves out of the current job crisis, a new report finds, the state must align its job training and workforce development services with needs of industries that have potential for growth.

The long term challenge facing North Carolina is ensuring that workers have the skills for employment in these industries, said a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.  

More than 60 percent of jobs in North Carolina will require some form of post-secondary education as early as 2020, and in order to achieve that target of working-age adults with post-secondary credentials, there would need to be a 4.5 percent average annual increase in post-secondary attainment.  Yet recent research finds that just 38.5 percent of the state’s adult working age population has an associate’s degree or higher, and just 20.1 of every 10,000 have some type of certificate.

Credential attainment can positively influence both labor and social outcomes if the training programs are tailored to the specific demands of the labor market, the report said, and if the credential represents at least one year of study. Workers with some post-secondary education earn $3,600 than workers with just a high-school diploma. Those with a bachelor’s degree earn $22,000 more. Workers with post-secondary education also have lower levels of unemployment and higher prospects for career mobility. This would positively affect annual per capita income in North Carolina.

The report identifies three types of industries that could effectively be aligned with credential attainment: North Carolina industries with long-term employment growth and significant job gains, local industries that had growth and stable job gains, and industries not yet concentrated in the state that have experienced employment growth.

To encourage these industries over the long term, the report said, North Carolina needs to ensure its workforce has the skills demanded by firms in these industries, many of which will require specialized training and credentials.

“Preparing North Carolina’s workforce for the jobs of the future will require designing and adequately funding effective sector approaches with delivery models like career pathways and bridge programs that can move people through training and toward industry-recognized and relevant credentials,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center and author of the report.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, BTC Director,, 919.861.1468; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications,, 503.551.3615 (cell).