LAURINBURG — Richmond Community College will use a $250,000 Duke Energy Foundation grant to expand its offering of courses at Scotland High School this fall.
The money will be used to purchase and install machining, drafting, and 3-D printing equipment for a new set of college-level structural design classes to be added to the high school’s course catalog.
“Students are going to get hands-on training and they’ll be better prepared when they enter the workforce,” said Camille Goins, career and technical education director for Scotland County Schools.
Scotland High School’s technical education department currently offers 12 programs of study incorporating multiple technical pathways and a number of college courses taught through Richmond Community College. Students may begin taking those courses in 10th grade, and by pursuing one or more career pathways can graduate with up to a full year of college credit.
“We are able to help students identify with a specific pathway and help them select which courses they need to take to earn a certificate or college diploma,” Goins said. “This is an additional pathway that will lead into a high need, high demand advanced manufacturing field.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an aging workforce is projected to lead to a 7.8 percent rise in the number of machinist jobs available in North Carolina by 2022. In 2012, 53 percent of skilled trade workers in the United States were over the age of 45, according to Economic Modeling Specialists International.
RCC is the first community college in North Carolina to offer a structural design program, according to RCC President Dale McInnis. Where Richmond Senior High School students are able to take advantage of the school’s on-campus machine shop in Hamlet, the Duke Energy grant will allow RCC to provide similar opportunities to Scotland County students.
“By implementing the degree program, we hope to show students that skilled trades are a viable career path and to provide them with the foundational skills to enter the workforce upon graduating from high school, as well as skills that will allow them to continue their education,” McInnis said.
“Students in the structural design program will not only learn how to make or modify parts, but they will also design and manufacture parts and prototypes. These skills will make them more marketable in an already high demand field.”
The $250,000 grant to RCC is part of Duke Energy’s $30 million investment in North Carolina’s community colleges focusing on technical education and support of business and industry.
“Richmond Community College is committed to equipping its students with the skills needed to compete in emerging sectors of today’s economy,” said Duke Energy District Manager David McNeill. “We’re pleased to continue our partnership with the college to strengthen the region’s education-to-workforce initiative.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.