The Real-World Work of Workforce Development


Workforce development: Aligning the needs and resources of K-12 schools, businesses, and community partners. It is easier said than done, but the 120 people in this photo are doing it.

Last week I participated in “Alignment SW Charlotte”, a summit that brought together educators from Olympic Community of Schools (a group of five high schools); their middle and elementary feeder schools; colleges; nonprofit and faith community partners; and businesses from Charlotte’s southwest corridor.

The summit was convened because of an urgent challenge. From 2008-2018, STEM jobs in the US are expected to increase by 17%. Most of those jobs will be filled by non-US workers. The US is expected to be short by as many as three million high-skills workers by 2018. (Source: National Math and Science Initiative)

Charlotte Works, the local workforce development board for Mecklenburg County, reports the following STEM job numbers for the Charlotte region:

  • 6,000 advanced manufacturing
  • 7, 000 energy
  • 10,000 health care
  • 11,000 logistics & distribution
  • 30,000 IT-related

It is difficult for businesses to find qualified local employees to hire for these positions.

Alignment SW Charlotte is a concrete, pragmatic, effective local response to the workforce development problem. In last week’s meeting, we worked together in breakout groups to help educators plan for the 2015-16 school year. Through work like this, community relationships are strengthened and real plans are put into place that result in children achieving their human and economic potential in today’s world.

The hard work and smart collaboration of the partners have already led to success, including national awards and the opening of a $200,000 Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Center at Olympic. See four pages of results from last year’s work here.

Kudos to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employee Mike Realon for spearheading Alignment SW Charlotte. Mike works at Olympic as the Career and Community Development Officer. Mike and I first met while serving together on the Career and College Readiness Task Force in 2012. We joined with other K-12 staff, community and business leaders and representatives of local community college and universities to recommend a coordinated plan for increasing career and college readiness in our CMS students. It is gratifying that many of our task force recommendations, including the creation of Alignment SW Charlotte, have been implemented. You can read the recommendations here (starting on page 74).

Alignment SW Charlotte, and the task force that led to it, are real-world examples of this pillar of my platform:

pillarThe good news continues to grow. The Olympic partnerships have been so successful that now North Mecklenburg High School and its feeder elementary and middle schools are beginning to replicate the model. With your support I will be serving on the school board, watching over and advocating for this important work. Stay tuned…


For more info:

And now to acknowledge a few partners participating in the work of  Alignment SW Charlotte:

AXA Advisors, BGW CPA PLLC, Black Belt World, Bosch Rexroth, Carolinas College of Health Sciences, Carolinas Healthcare System, Central Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Works, BASF, City of Charlotte, CPCC, CRVA, Cybertary, DecisionPathHR, Discovery Place, Drive Inc., Edward Jones, Environmental Process Solutions, Falcon Fastening Solutions Inc., Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, Habitat for Humanity Charlotte, Jackson Orthodontics, Judah Church, Junior Achievement of Central Carolinas, Lane Construction, Logo’d Gear, Marriott Courtyard Billy Graham, Mecklenburg PTA Council, NAF/NC New Schools | Breakthrough Learning, neteffect technologies, Siemens Energy, SkoolAide, Standard Pacific, Steele Creek Pediatric Dentistry, Steele Creek Printing & Design, Steele Creek Residents Association, Steele Creek YMCA, Sysco Charlotte, Truliant Federal Credit Union….and of course Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools!