There’s no question that the skills gap is an impediment to competitiveness and unfortunately, it’s a challenge afflicting industries in every corner of the state. In order to close the skills gap long-term, we must support effective K-12 public schools that fully prepare students with 21st-century career-training opportunities. It is this experience that will ensure students are career and college ready and cultivate a world-class, highly-skilled talent pipeline. This #WorkReadyWednesday, we’re highlighting a Charlotte-Mecklenburg County high school that is changing workforce development through innovative learning experiences.
Olympic Community of Schools is not a traditional high school. Unlike other high schools in the CMS district, Olympic is comprised of five small schools focused on specialized learning areas – the School of Technology Entrepreneurship & Advanced Manufacturing, School of Executive Leadership & Entrepreneurial Development, School of Biotechnology, Health and Public Administration, School of Math, Engineering, Technology and Science and the Renaissance School. A transformation that began in 2005 to improve the Olympic’s outcomes, each of the high schools provide students with project and work-based learning experiences to better prepare them for entering the workforce or pursuing a college degree. In addition to the work-based learning experiences within the high school curriculum, Olympic has partnered with the business community and Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) to offer apprenticeships that provide students with on-the-job training, an associate’s degree, certificates from the State of North Carolina and US Department of Labor and a job upon completion of the program. Not only does this provide students with a solid education foundation and a career pathway, but it also cultivates the very talent that is desperately needed by job creators.
We know aligning the goals of North Carolina’s education systems with the needs of our rapidly evolving workforce is key to closing the skills gap. If we’re to produce a world-class workforce ready to compete in the modern global economy, we must continue advancing forward-thinking, innovative education opportunities for students across the state. Olympic Community of Schools is just one example of North Carolina’s many programs in place to combat the skills gap and grow our talent pipeline, but there is still much more work to be done in order to make North Carolina a leader in workforce development.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber