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Education
Jul 7, 2020

Getting A Jump On Job Skills

Sponsored Content provided by Heather McWhorter - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Uncertainty continues with education this fall – in person, online, somewhere in between? K-12 back on schedule? Higher Ed on campus? But, amid the scramble of near-term decision making, there are community leaders working to prepare students for the best jobs coming to the Cape Fear region.
 
The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Cape Fear Collective, and RTI International are partnering to survey a minimum of 500 businesses across all industries, and in all stages of business development, to identify the areas of highest growth and the skills needed in our six-county region.

Whether you have a business now or are an aspiring entrepreneur – take the survey! Think about it -- when you’re ready to add great talent to your team, won’t you want a ready pipeline of applicants? The website shows just over 300 businesses have replied so far. Your input will help set education programs and curricula for the skills you’ll need to grow your business next year – and for the next decade.

A recent article in Fast Company on ‘Work in 2040’, pointed to some key trends:

  • Traditional colleges are adapting curricula to meet the needs of employers
  • There will be more alternatives to traditional higher ed
  • Soft skills will be important, but most jobs will require a high level of technological competence
  • Micro-credentialing will become more prevalent
  • Lifelong learners and companies that encourage learning will thrive
These trends, especially responding to the needs of employers, micro-credentialing, and lifelong learning, really hit home.

UNCW is responding to the needs of employers and FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development) is an example. FuseCR was formed by UNCW faculty from the School of Nursing’s Clinical Research Program and the Math and Statistics Department, in partnership with the NC Biotechnology Center and the NC Coast Clinical Research Initiative. Originally funded by a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, FuseCR strengthens the workforce for the local clinical research industry.

As technology continues to accelerate, experts predict that micro-credentialing programs will explode. Workers need to continually upskill and reskill. Expect an increasing number of certifications in technical fields such as cybersecurity and programming, and in other areas where workers need to continually adapt. UNCW CIE, for example, is working with partners to develop Certifications in Innovation for Healthcare, Computer Science, and Marine Science professionals.

Lifelong learning is an essential skill. The current issue of Inc. magazine features Bill Gates and his prediction for the skill most needed for a competitive edge in the future: Curiosity. According to Gates, curiosity is the framework for acquiring knowledge. A growth mindset is the foundation to stay curious and keep learning. Gates suggests students will need to be lifelong learners to be prepared for the immense changes that are taking place in healthcare and other fields and the challenges of climate change – critical areas of focus for our region.

Please join us on and help us get a jump on preparing our students, businesses, and community to thrive and grow by adding your voice to the Regional Skills Analysis survey.
 

Diane Durance, MPA, is director of UNC Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The CIE is a resource for the start-up and early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit www.uncw.edu/cie.

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