The Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board (ECWDB), in collaboration with the NCWorks Career Center Managers and Two Hawk Workforce Solutions, has been making significant strides in advancing On-the-Job Training (OJT) opportunities for small businesses with 25 employees or fewer. This initiative, supported by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), places a special emphasis on empowering local "Mom and Pop" establishments, which collectively constitute a staggering 85% of all businesses within our region. Leveraging the financial backing from ARPA, the ECWDB is not only facilitating OJT programs, but also offering Incumbent Worker Training (IWT), Work Experience (WEX), Re-Entry programs, Entrepreneurial Training, and Substance Use programs.
The initial phase of this endeavor has been dedicated to the OJT program. The adept Business Services team at ECWDB has devised a comprehensive outreach strategy that seamlessly integrates with local businesses and influential community centers like Religious Community Services (RCS) and others who interact with potential job-seekers. This strategy entails a multi-step approach, commencing with the distribution of postcards to potential businesses, followed by personalized follow-up calls and scheduled visits. Additionally, industry-specific informative materials are shared via email. Since the commencement of this project in March 2023, an impressive 14 businesses have already enrolled in the program aptly named START NOW (Strategies, Tools, And Resources To Navigate Opportunities at Work). Notably, this initiative has facilitated the launch of 4 OJT opportunities, involving Professional Auto Service of New Bern and Efficient Construction of Kinston of these businesses as employers. Under this framework, OJT participants gain invaluable training from their new employers, which in turn equips them with freshly acquired skills. Simultaneously, this arrangement enables businesses to address workforce gaps. Throughout the up to 6-month OJT duration, employers receive reimbursements of up to 75% of the participants' hourly wages.
With Two Hawk Workforce Solutions consistently enrolling new participants into the OJT program, the dedicated Business Services Team remains steadfast in their commitment to linking interested employers with OJT service providers. Furthermore, their focus is expanding to encompass Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) and Work Experience (WEX) training opportunities, targeting employers with whom they have established strong business relationships.
In summary, the collaborative efforts spearheaded by the Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, in conjunction with NCWorks, have resulted in a transformative approach to enhancing employment opportunities for small businesses. Through strategic planning, outreach, and innovative program implementation, this initiative not only supports local enterprises but also equips individuals with the skills they need to thrive in the workforce. As these efforts continue to evolve, there is a palpable sense of optimism regarding the long-term impact on the regional economy and the empowerment of both businesses and workers alike.
Business Services Representative
Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, Inc.
(serving Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, and Wayne Counties in North Carolina)