By: Ashley Cagle | Vice President of Economic Development, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
It is imperative for businesses to invest in the next generation of workers.
This past summer, Infosys announced plans to open a U.S. innovation hub in Raleigh, which will create 2,000 jobs over the next five years. The Infosys announcement was the largest jobs announcement in Wake County and adds to a recent influx of local opportunity including Credit Suisse’s announcement to grow their local presence by 1,200 and MetLife’s plan to add another 1,000 positions to its Cary workforce.
Couple these announcements with the Triangle’s bid to win the Amazon HQ2 project, which would create 50,000 jobs over 20 years, with an unemployment rate of less than four percent and suddenly our labor market appears to be a little tight; begging the question of how we will supply the high-quality labor these companies seek.
Wake County grows at a rate of 67 people per day – 21 are born here and the rest are moving into the county from other locales in the U.S. and across the globe. We are attracting some of the brightest minds in the world. More than 75 percent of the adults moving to Wake County hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and 42,000 students are graduating annually from one of the Triangle’s 12 colleges and universities. We are smart and getting smarter.
But will the flow of talent be enough to sustain the kinds of pressures being put on our labor market?
The answer lies in our next generation of workers and the opportunity to support our homegrown talent, while continuing to be a destination for smart people. Approximately 160,000 students are enrolled in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) and will soon be graduating. The challenge for WCPSS is to prepare students that are career or college ready – both paths require transferable work and life skills that will set students up for success. With the ever-evolving world of work, teaching relevant skills becomes increasingly difficult for educators.
That is where our business community comes in.
Industry holds the keys when it comes to preparing our next generation of workers. They have their finger on the pulse of the in-demand skills and the those needed in the future to continue driving business forward.
Companies like Red Hat, Credit Suisse, John Deere, and State Employees Credit Union have figures out the value of investing in the talent pipeline. Red Hat’s CO.LAB program, which introduces middle school girls to the world of open source, debuted in Raleigh earlier this month. Interactive learning experiences like CO.LAB are sparking students’ interest in the jobs of the future. Our community has a clear path forward with job growth and opportunity. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure our young people have the skills they need to be prepared for the workplace.