The NCWorks Partnership Conference is an annual event held each year in October. Held at the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel in Greensboro, NC, the conference traditionally draws upwards of 1,000 Workforce Development Professionals from across the state. Attendees represent labor, state and federal government, education, community-based organizations, community colleges, and the private sector. Each year, the conference continues to offer timely topics and networking opportunities, and 2018 was no exception!
NC Job Ready was an initiative began by Governor Roy Cooper earlier this year to ensure that North Carolinians are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. NC Job Ready is built on three key principles:
- Providing education and skills training;
- Partnering with employers to prepare workers for evolving industries;
- And tapping into local innovation.
As a special surprise to conference attendees, Governor Cooper attended the Partnership Conference’s opening session and provided details about his NC Job Ready Initiative in person to the workforce professionals in attendance. The Governor also provided updates on his Finish Line Grant Initiative that assists eligible community college students who face unforeseen financial emergencies with completing their training. The Finish Line Grant awards up to $1,000 to eligible students and can cover course materials, car repairs, housing, medical needs, dependent care, or other financial emergencies that students face through no fault of their own. Once the Governor finished speaking, we had the opportunity to hear from Peyton Holland of SkillsUSA NC, who addressed the cause of the skills gap in today’s economy and how we as workforce professionals can help to end it.
After the opening session concluded, attendees had the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops which topics included: NCWorks Online, Skills Gaps, Retention, Workforce Development Boards, Career Pathways, Communications, NCCareers.org, and Special Populations. Once the workday ended, the “after 5” activities began and conference attendees had the chance to mingle with their fellow workforce professionals at the BBQ Buffet, an Escape Room, a networking hour, and at “The After Party”.
Thursday was another day full of learning opportunities as conference attendees gathered for a virtual session with Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting. Rebecca addressed the various generations that make up today’s workforce and workforce professionals, and how their varying outlooks on life could affect communication and customer service. Following the virtual session, conference attendees spent the remainder of their workday in workshops which included topics related specifically to Professional Development, WIOA, System Alignment and Transformation, Work-based Learning, Serving Customers, Technology and Accountability, and Employer Engagement. That evening, attendees gathered in the ballroom for the Annual NCWorks Governor’s Awards of Distinction, an awards banquet honoring hard-working participants, employers, innovative partnerships, and staff that provide WIOA program services across the state. A list of this year’s award recipients and their stories can be found here.
Friday began with a buffet style breakfast and a morning of various workshops before attendees heard from the closing session speaker, Jan Spence of Jan Spence and Associates. Jan shared her heartwarming and inspiring story of her time as a professional women’s football player and the life lessons she learned on that journey, that we can utilize as workforce professionals, to not only make our dreams a reality but to help our clients do the same as well.
As a whole, this year’s NCWorks Partnership Conference was a success and staff and partners of the TSWDB who attended had a blast learning with their peers from across the state.