♦ An eclectic group of minority-owned business people and members of academia and government came together on Tuesday to share information on their areas of digital expertise, and to cross-pollinate ideas and knowledge. Kenneth Muhammad El, networking with professional people from Raleigh to Charlotte, convened the meeting with PMC2 LLC. Welcomed to the table at EastSquare Artworks were Antoine Smith, Rick Hudson, Mike Perry, Gus Vanegas, Shaun Donnell, Robin Whitehurst, Marcus Bynum, David Post, Joe Cullen, Shawn Blackwell, Alex Clark, Dr. A. McLaughlin, Solomon McAuley, Latasha Wilks, Jil Burch, and Whitney Peckman.
Many arms of government have been working to bring job training programs to the city and county. However, they have met with limited success largely due to the difficulty in reaching those most in need of training – people who may not have the basic skills to fit into a training situation which assumes a certain level of accomplishment, such as a high school education, being able to pass a drug test, or because of a felony on their record.
David Post expressed an urgent need to raise the high school graduation rate and to find job opportunities for graduates to stay here in Rowan County. What has historically been inadequate outreach to the high schools, is now in the beginning phases of remediation, thanks to RSSS’ new programming. However, there is still a substantial percentage of students who need extra assistance with a small stipend, transportation, perhaps even something as seemingly simple as appropriate clothing in order to take advantage of job training opportunities. And, while we catch up, we have an ever increasing population falling through the cracks, and an already high percentage of students dropping out before graduation.
As conversation flowed, all agreed that there needs to be deep reaching into the community by those who know the community. Alex Clark (COMPASS) and Robin Whitehurst (World Financial Group) related a meeting they had just had with a 40-something woman who had never had anyone explain the basics of financial literacy in language she could understand. Financial literacy, identified as an impediment in the 2014 Analysis of Impediments, is a topic that becomes more important, not as you become wealthy, but rather when you are on a severely limited income. Good management of one’s few funds is critical if one is to ever crawl out of poverty. So job training, then the job….but when is the financial literacy piece being taught? Not in the schools. Not on the job. Where? When?
As with all big social problems, the layers are deep. Connections need to be made – connections between employers, potential employees, training programs, and critically, PRE-training programs. The most urgent need is to connect those in dire straits – unemployed adults with families to support, youth searching for a future, single mothers in public housing, and ex-felons, with those who can bridge the gap to the world of employers. From the bridge, their hope for a better future, their desire to be productive members of society can be rekindled.
Kenneth Muhammad El and PMC2 are connecting minority-owned businesses. Forging a new path to job training, future employment, building new business opportunities, and helping families in this struggling community is their focus. Watch for more developments.
Video: Work Force Development Meet: