Burke County, North Carolina’s manufacturing heritage has provided employers with a workforce that has a solid work ethic and a deep appreciation for quality. Local employers benefit from a labor shed of more than 178,000 workers within a 20-minute drive — and more than 650,000 within a 45-minute drive. Generations of hardworking people have been drawn to (and stay in) this area because of our strong economy and low cost of living.
EMPLOYER-FOCUSED WORKFORCE TRAINING
As companies upgrade equipment and processes, our area’s loyal and dedicated workers have improved their skills to support their employers’ changing needs. In fact, workforce preparation is a lifelong pursuit in our communities. Our public schools are proud to partner with local businesses to provide mentorship and job shadowing. Burke Development, Inc.’s Work in Burke campaign introduces students to careers in fields important to local employers, encouraging informed decisions about career pathways. Educators also work with local employers to provide school-based enterprises and work-based learning opportunities, including apprenticeships, co-ops, and internships.
INDUSTRY-RECOGNIZED WORKPLACE CERTIFICATIONS
Local career and technical education programs allow students to gain skills and earn industry-recognized certifications in such areas as:
- Engineering technology, mechatronics, and computer-integrated machining
- Welding and automotive repair
- Agricultural and animal science, horticulture, and agricultural mechanics/machinery
- Business, finance and information technology
- Family and consumer sciences, including food science and safety
- Health sciences and nursing
RIGOROUS STEM OPPORTUNITIES
Starting in 2022, local high school juniors and seniors will be able to take a rigorous, high-level curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math at the new North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), which is opening its second North Carolina campus in Morganton. The campus, part of the University of North Carolina system, will initially enroll 150 students with enrollment expected to double by the second year.
MANY HIGHER ED OPTIONS
Students pursuing higher education to prepare for their career — and workers who want to add to their skillsets — have plenty of options around Burke County. Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) in Morganton offers more than 100 associate degree and state-level certification programs, as well as customized training to meet the needs of local employers. Most WPCC students are employed locally and attend classes part-time to advance their careers. Many are drawn to WPCC’s 7,000-square-foot mechatronics education space – the largest in the area — to gain the skills they need for high-tech industries.
Nearby private colleges and universities, including Appalachian State University, Western Carolina University, Lenoir Rhyne University, and Lees McRae College, offer a total of more than 200 undergraduate and 140 graduate programs. They provide a continuous source of highly qualified talent for businesses in every industry.