New workforce development center expected to address employment needs

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Tuesday was the groundbreaking for the new workforce development center in New Bern, Volt Center.

People behind the project say it will address employment needs of the community, and benefit students of Craven Community College.

“It’s going to be a game changer for us,” Craven Community College President Dr. Ray Staats said. “It’s going to allow us to offer some entry level trade programs and some skilled areas that the workforce here locally just doesn’t have available to them.”

The Volt Center will be built within the existing New Bern electrical plant.

Skilled labor classes will be offered at the center through Craven Community College in partnership with the county and various funding groups.

“There is a big need in the state of North Carolina, it is actually above the national average, for construction work, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, carpentry,” CCC Dean of Workforce Development Robin Matthews said.

“The jobs are there, but individuals with the skill set to do them aren’t there,” Dr. Staats said. “We also have a large workforce that’s looking for work. So we have to bridge that gap.”

CCC says one of the issues now with trying to run these classes is the lack of space on campus.

They say the new 7,500-square-foot space will eliminate that problem.

“We are going to build fake walls,” CCC Director of Customized Training and Service Programs Keith Williams said. “We are going to be able to run wire. We are going to be able to work on HVAC systems without having to pull it out of a garage and put it back in like we have been doing now because of space.”

“By training these individuals, getting them back into the workforce, getting them jobs, it creates a tremendous economic impact on your community,” New Bern City Manager Mark Stephens said.

“Twenty years from now, there are going to be small businesses throughout this region that those individuals started right here at Craven Community College at $1.30 a training hour getting their education and getting set up for life,” Dr. Staats said.

Organizers say they are in the design phase of the Volt Center right now.

They hope construction will start this fall, and the final product to be completed around April

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