Wilkes Community College Offers Many Workforce Programs
Mike Pierce says 75 percent of students at Wilkes Community College are enrolled in career and technical programs specifically designed to help prepare them to immediately enter the workforce.
Pierce, a workforce development expert at WCC and director of the college's advanced materials technology program, says some of the most popular current career choices of study include health technologies, law enforcement, gaming and simulation, alternative energy and industrial maintenance. Other hot career paths are in heavy equipment and transportation technology, electronics engineering and welding technology.
The college, which serves Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties, has one of the highest-rated workforce development staffs in North Carolina, Pierce says: “Not only do we provide strong training, but we also have strong ties to the business community.”
“We serve many local industries by providing customized technical classes,” Pierce says. “For example, if a company needs us to put together a basic brush-up electricity class for its incoming maintenance personnel, we do that. WCC is also the area contractor for Workforce Investment Act services, which includes applying for and accessing federal grants.”
Also part of the workforce development effort at WCC is an Applied Technology Center formally dedicated in 2009. It houses advanced technology equipment to train students to work in fields such as the aerospace, transportation and construction industries.
“We are supplying training for some very advanced areas of study these days, including curriculum programs in composites engineering, advanced machining, computer engineering and horticulture technology,” Pierce says. “The college also helps prepare people for state tests depending on what career they may be in – from a notary class to a plumbing contractor.”
To further add to its industrial and workforce development initiative, Wilkes Community College has a capital campaign under way to fund an Automotive Technology Complex.
“A lot of our students are enrolled in curriculums such as automotive systems technology as well as collision repair and refinishing technology, and we're looking to make the college one of the leaders in automotive technology in all of North Carolina and beyond,” Pierce says. “Our faculty has widely varied technical interests but shares the common goal of educating the best engineering technologists possible. In fact, the entire college pledges itself to quality education, training and retraining for the workforce.”
About Wilkes Community College
- Wilkes Community College is a public, two-year institution
- It serves residents of Wilkes, Ashe and Allegheny counties
- Founded in 1964 with 68 students, today it enrolls more than 3,500 full-time students and 8,500 in continuing education
- WCC hosts the annual MerleFest music festival every April