"Attracting people to this plant is something that we are concerned about," said
Over the past decade, the average age of the trained workforce in manufacturing has gone from 40.5 years to 44.1, and 75 percent of companies surveyed by Deloitte, a U.S. consulting firm, believe the aging skilled production workforce is a significant problem.
"Across the nation there is a gap in skilled labor,"
That creates a challenge for workforce development professionals in the Mountain Empire.
To meet that need, the 26,000-square-foot
And people are taking advantage. On any given day, hundreds of students use the facility, hoping to fill the growing need for skilled labor.
"The market is wide open for vocation trades," Gilliam said.
In 1999, paper manufacturer
"We had to do something to raise the economic level of growth," said
So they got together, and developed a plan. Based on the belief that academics was a path to improving the prosperity of the community by creating a skilled workforce, Eastman,
"It's an economic development initiative," McCord said.
The community broke ground in 2008 on the
"Eastman worked with the state to provide funding to grow jobs and attract people in advanced manufacturing," Lewis said.
The center is owned by the
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