Participants of Burke Development, Inc.’s Project RENEW were honored Thursday at a graduation ceremony held at the Foothills Higher Education Center. This is the second class graduating from the unique workforce development program, which is funded through a grant received from the NC Rural Center.The 24 graduates received a certificate of completion and had an opportunity to meet with potential employers. Over 15 local companies now participate in the program, and many were on hand to meet the RENEW graduates and speak with them about employment.“RENEW continues to grow and be successful,” said BDI President Scott Darnell. “We are filling a need in this community. We have employers telling us they need good, quality employees but they can’t find them. There’s a gap in the skills employers are seeking and the skills that the current workforce has. RENEW fills that gap.”The class, which is 96 hours, is completed on participants’ own time. It provides training across various topics including team building, trouble shooting, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, conflict resolution, safety, communication, CNC machining, blue print reading, computer applications and others.RENEW was recently highlighted at the NC Rural Center’s Annual Conference for its unique approach to meeting employer demands and creating strong partnerships with local businesses. Darnell, along with RENEW Graduate Jim Clement, presented the program to an audience of 500 participants representing 85 North Carolina counties.The first RENEW class had 44 graduates and 38 have found full time employment. Anyone interested in participating in the third class, which will begin in January, should contact Nick Saturno at Western Piedmont Community College at (828) 448-6148. Local companies interested in becoming a partner and hiring RENEW graduates should also contact Saturno.“The metrics for these classes are very good,” added Darnell. “We’re happy with the program’s success and are exploring ways to keep this program going next year. As long as our existing industry is asking that we step in to help solve this problem, we will continue to find ways to help them.”RENEW stands for Re-Educating a New Employable Workforce. The program is designed to re-tool, re-educate and re-invent the local workforce to match the attitudes found in local companies – who themselves have had to ‘renew’ their operations in recent years to remain viable in today’s highly competitive environment. For more information about Project RENEW visit the BDI website at www.burkedevinc.com.About Burke Development, Inc.Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit www.BurkeDevInc.com.###
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