A team effort between Yadkin County and Elkin has led to a $100,000 grant. Yadkin County and Elkin decided to join forces in March to apply for the New Generations Careers Grant.
The Rural Center is awarding the grant to 14 counties, towns, schools and organizations, totaling nearly $1.2 million to assist in training and placing rural young people in careers that will keep them in rural areas.
“The focus is to benefit young adults just entering the work place and to try to help rural counties retain their youth, which has been a huge problem for Yadkin County according to the last 20 years of census data,” said Kevin Austin, Yadkin County Commissioner Chair.
Yadkin County and Elkin originally applied for the grant separately, but were encouraged to join forces by The Rural Center in order to increase their chances of being awarded a grant.
The combination paid off with the $100,000 grant that will allow Yadkin County and Elkin to assist young adults with tuition, transportation to classes and job training and other career training costs. This training will lead to these young adults to find jobs within Yadkin County and Elkin instead of moving on to bigger cities like Winston-Salem to look for work.
“The assumption is that they’re going to the cities for job opportunities and the fact of the matter is we do have job opportunities within the county with the growth of industry that we’ve had,” Austin said. “Unfortunately nobody is training our youth for those jobs. If you look at the growth of Lydall, Phillips Van Heusen and Chipita there are a lot of jobs available in the maintenance and technical levels.”
These companies are also looking at a workforce that is aging into retirement, which will leave them with a surplus of technical positions that need to be filled by trained individuals. A group they would like to be in the younger generation to ensure a more secure workforce.
“Companies in our area have a universal need for skilled maintenance personnel,” said Leslie Schlender, Economic Development Director for the Town of Elkin. “Some employers are also facing the reality that their current skilled workforce will age-out towards retirement in the near future. This aging workforce, as well as demand for technologically savvy workers has created a clear focus-area for our local community college, economic developers and schools to address.”
The county and Elkin will be working closely with Surry Community Colleges at their respective campuses in order to establish a curriculum for these students and to recruit young adults that they think will fit well with the program.
“The community college will be developing the curriculum,” Austin said. “After the training has been provided the industries within the county has agreed to help provide mentoring and on-the-job training opportunities and allowing these trainees to interview for open positions.”
The specific details have not been laid out yet. Elkin and Yadkin County will be working together to establish the program and get more business and industries involved in this effort.
“Our industries don’t see the dividing lines between Yadkin County and Elkin so it’s going to be a good partnership,” Austin said.
Schlender is also excited about the possibilities this grant is providing for Elkin and it’s younger generation residents.
“It is going to be wonderful to be working with our local employers and young people to showcase the employment opportunities that are here in Surry and Yadkin Counties,” Schlender said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.