The Intersection

myFutureNC Blog Series: Bridging Education and the Workforce

March 5, 2020

Last month I had the privilege of attending The Hunt Institute’s Governors’ Advisors Retreat as part of a team from North Carolina. We joined leaders in education and workforce from across the country to learn about the changing educational and training needs for the workforce of the future. One of the strongest takeaways was that no single institution can solve these challenges—that the change we need will involve intentional and focused collaboration between education and workforce systems and employers. As North Carolina works to achieve our attainment goal of #2millionby2030, it is critical that we grow these partnerships.

One of the best ways to foster this collaboration between the education and business sectors is through providing work-based learning opportunities for students across their educational journey. For over 35 years, the NC Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) has been a leader in bridging the gap between the state’s education systems and employers by promoting work-based learning opportunities for students, supporting educators and helping NC businesses grow their talent pipeline in the state.  

NCBCE is an education nonprofit housed in the Governor’s Office and our Board is comprised of business leaders from across the state. This provides a unique and critically important ability to collaborate between education and government systems and employers, breaking down silos that are difficult to navigate but critical to provide our state’s workforce of the future. Formed by Governor Jim Hunt in 1983, NCBCE has been an innovator in this space, launching worked-based learning programs such as Students@Work, a middle school career awareness program that last year enabled 48,000 students from across the state to spend time in local businesses, and Teachers@Work, our educator externship program that provides opportunities for teachers to spend time in local businesses.

Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready program has a strong focus on work-based learning. Under the current leadership of the NCBCE Board of Directors, NCBCE has supported Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready program through a variety of efforts including:

  • The emPowering STEM Classroom to Career Conference, which is a professional development opportunity for middle school STEM educators to learn project-based learning activities from industry professionals,
  • Ready, Set, App! which is a new statewide app development challenge for high school students’
  • LiNC-IT (Linking Inclusion for Innovative Talent) which is our internship program for young people on the autism spectrum, and
  • Work-Based Learning Navigator, which is NC’s free work-based learning marketplace where employers can post work-based learning opportunities for students and educators can select these opportunities for their students.

We encourage all NC employers to engage in work-based learning by joining the Navigator and providing students with a window into your business. You can be a guest speaker, participate in a career fair, host a student for a job shadow opportunity, judge a career competition, serve as a mentor, and offer internships, co-ops or apprenticeship programs.  Business and industry must lead the efforts to expand work-based learning to provide opportunities for all students in NC and to grow their future workforce. It is a win-win for everyone.


Caroline Sullivan
Executive Director, North Carolina Business Committee for Education

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