What happens when businesses are eager to hire local employees, but an equally eager workforce lacks the necessary skills for employment? A stalemate.
South Hill and its surrounding region have suffered this dilemma for the last five years with an unemployment rate ranging from 3 to 4.2 percent higher than the state average. Many may assume that numbers this high are due to a lack of employment opportunity, but they can actually be due to a lack of training opportunity. While the town strives to develop its engineering industry, employers struggle to place untrained workers.
Recognizing these factors, Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center facilitates skilled training to create a talented local workforce, but the resources the center had in the past were simply too outdated. In developing talent for South Hill’s advancing industry, it was critical that software be updated to ensure the level of training could meet industry demands.
USDA Rural Development in 2015 provided a $24,000 Rural Business Development Grant to upgrade software at the center to allow students to gain skills that meet the needs of existing and future businesses in the region. The grant supports the acquisition of a 3D scanner and a PLC Software Controller that will allow students to develop engineering skills.
Residents of Brunswick, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg benefit from the center’s high performance curriculum as the three counties are the primary source of labor in the South Hill area. Over the next three years it is projected that a minimum of 200 persons trained at the center will be gainfully employed in local industries throughout the region.
This project takes South Hill one step closer to dropping its unemployment rate, increasing wage levels, and reviving its economy.