Building A Bigger Workforce

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 2, 2018
With the addition of several new customized training and workforce develop­ment programs at Cape Fear Com­munity College this year, Josh Davis has a hand in many projects.  
One of those projects, recently launched through a partnership between CFCC and Yamaha Corp. aimed at training future marine tech­nicians, is now training 16 students to enter the industry.  
And the next session of the course that starts in January is already full, said Davis, director of customized training and workforce development programs for the college.
“A reason that program so successful is because – yes, there is a need from a student perspective – but then there’s also employers,” Davis said. “Essentially, that’s the biggest thing we are doing right now in con-ed [CFCC’s Continuing Education division] and the entire college altogether, is just listening to the community and seeing what they need.”
It’s one of the larger projects Davis has worked on since joining CFCC’s Customized Training and Workforce Development services, which fall under the college’s Continuing Education division.
In his role, Davis oversees programs that provide education, training and support services for new, expanding or existing businesses in New Hanover and Pender counties.
This customized training program is “part of the economic development package from the state North Carolina,” Davis said.
He also runs the workforce development side of the service that works with business and industry to develop programs and curriculum to meet local workforce needs.
Davis was hired as a business and industry coordinator to work within customized training and workforce development services in October 2017.
This spring, he took on the role as director replacing former leader John Downing, who is now dean of continuing education for the school.
While in those roles, Davis has used his past experience to help launch the college’s course for marine technicians and other large projects that started this year, such as CFCC’s Power Line Technician Program and Construction Institutes, an intensive two-week training program aimed at meeting construction workforce needs.
Davis graduated from N.C. State University with a technology education degree and was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. After graduation, he worked as a middle school teacher in Garner teaching exploring technology systems.
He moved to Wilmington with his wife, who grew up in the area. With the move, Davis took a job at Ashley High School and taught there for five years as a trade and industry instructor, teaching carpentry.
In 2014, he resigned from the school and started work as a foreman with Southern Tide Construction Co. That was his role for three-and-a-half years, while also working at CFCC part time in the marine technology department teaching industrial skills in carpentry and welding as they apply to the marine industry, he said.
He is also a graduate of CFCC’s wooden boat building program.
“I know what it’s like to be a teacher. I know how to develop a curriculum. I know how to deal with students. And that’s one of the things that I like to think that I do well, is just connecting with not only the students but also the instructors and being able to support them,” Davis said.
That experience had a role in helping build the contacts to launch the Construction Institutes this summer.
And with the launch of a new graphic design program in September, Davis is facilitating additional curriculums in development to support business and industry.
He’s leading new initiatives such as a production technician program, architectural draftsman program and information technology academy – none of which are fully developed yet.
“To take over as director, it just means a lot,” Davis said. “It’s kind of a critical time for all the industries ... We need folks working, we need them trained and to be able to offer that quality training and offer more courses.”
One of the newer initiatives in the works is a production technician program that teaches students to work with equipment in manufacturing settings. Davis said the course could provide a certification through the program.
The production technician program “goes hand in hand” with customized training, another part of Davis’ role at the college, he said.
The community college works with firms to do training for employees if a company qualifies for a project, he said. Companies qualify if they are in a targeted industry and are planning a productivity enhancement, capital investment or job growth, Davis said.
Funding for the program is provided through the state.
The college has active customized training projects with seven different firms in New Hanover and Pender counties, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Corning Inc., Fenner Drives Inc. and National Gypsum Co., which is currently gearing up for operations. There are four new projects in development with different companies in the program. Each project lasts for three years, Davis said.
Davis said he wants to see even more offerings come forward in both Continuing Education and Workforce Development.
“The other big part is keeping our finger on the pulse with the community and the industry,” Davis said. “That is a huge part of the job is just to maintain and grow relationships within the community in New Hanover and Pender counties with businesses to make sure that we are up to date with the training that they need and funneling the workforce to them, trained and ready to work.”
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