Wednesday, Sept. 9, was a day of celebration for multiple agencies as the local NCWorks Career Center reopened in a new location — Vance-Granville Community College’s Warren Campus in Warrenton — with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The agency now known as NCWorks has carried a number of names over the years, from Employment Security Commission to JobLink, or it has simply been called “the unemployment office.” The local Career Center previously was housed in the John Graham annex building.
Last week’s ceremony marked the culmination of a partnership between Warren County government, Warren County Economic Development, NCWorks, Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments and Vance-Granville Community College to help area residents and employers prepare for the future.
Warren County Manager Vincent Jones said that last year, he, the Warren County Board of Commissioners and VGCC President Dr. Rachel Desmarais met to discuss how the county could partner with Vance-Granville so that the community could more readily utilize community college resources to become workforce ready.
This joint goal of preparing area residents for employment led to a partnership with the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, which serves as the coordinator for NCWorks in the Kerr-Tar area, which covers Warren, Vance, Granville, Franklin and Person counties and related municipalities.
Jones said that since last year, the partner agencies have been working to ensure that the resulting NCWorks Career Center would have the best space possible, with computer resources. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, delaying the official opening of the center at its new location.
Last week was the first chance the partners had to show the community that the NCWorks Career Center was back open and had moved to the VGCC Warren Campus, he added.
The theme of partnership to better the community, its workforce and economic development dominated last week’s celebration.
“I am very delighted to see the Career Center,” state Rep. Terry Garrison said, praising the ongoing relationship between the Kerr-Tar COG and NCWorks and the partnership with Warren County and VGCC.
“NCWorks does a wonderful job getting people employed,” he said.
Garrison noted that the Career Center’s location on the VGCC Campus would be ideal in connecting members of the workforce with training they will need to better themselves.
Tare “T” Davis, chairman of the Warren County Board of Commissioners, emphasized that speaking about the local workforce is not speaking about an impersonal group, but, rather, loved ones, friends and family who surround each person every day.
He said that the county manager, county commissioners and economic development support the partnership with VGCC and other agencies.
“The partnership with Vance-Granville Community College is paramount,” Davis said. “It speaks volumes for what you offer for the community.”
Dr. Jerry Edmonds, VGCC vice president for Workforce and Community Engagement praised the partnership of all agencies involved, saying that it is vital that the community knows about the resources that the collaboration has made possible.
Lou Grillo, interim director of Workforce Development with the Kerr-Tar COG, said that having the Career Center on the VGCC Campus will bring critical opportunities for NCWorks clients.
“People come to the Career Center and want to better themselves,” he said. “They need education, and that is right here. “
Monica Satterwhite, NCWorks Career Center manager, expressed gratitude to VGCC for housing the center on the community college campus.
“I am grateful to Vance-Granville for welcoming us with open arms,” she said. “(The location) makes sense. I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”
Satterwhite emphasized that the Career Center is not just for the unemployed or underemployed. Instead, she wants the community to view the center as a resource for people who want to better themselves, seek a career change or want to gain new skills.
The Warrenton Career Center is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment. Centers in Henderson and Oxford are also open.
Satterwhite said that many services, such as workshops and hiring events, continue to be held virtually due to COVID-19. People may use their home computers or electronic devices, or may make an appointment to go to the Career Center to use the computers there.
Career advisors/counselors recommend workshops for their clients that cover everything from resume writing and interview skills to other topics that will help in the next steps toward employment.
They can also help clients decide what additional skills and training they need for the type of work they want to pursue.
“We help people return to the workforce in a career as soon as possible,” Satterwhite said. “They career path is based on the needs in the area. We want to prepare clients for a career field, not just to have a job, but to have a career, to be able to move forward.”
She said that it is important to focus on the needs of each individual because everyone is different.
Satterwhite noted that the Career Center’s location on the Vance-Granville Campus is ideal for multiple reasons.
“We have the ability to get closer to students now looking for work,” she said. “For our customers, we will not just refer them to services, but can walk them around the corner (for classes). It’s a win for Vance-Granville Community College, the NCWorks Career Center and the community.”
Charla Duncan, Warren County interim Economic Development director, agreed.
“Vance-Granville Community College already has things in the works with workforce development courses designed for business,” she said. “To have NCWorks on the campus where they already have resources is exciting.”
Duncan noted that having a skilled workforce in the community is vital to economic development. The Career Center will also help to ensure that existing businesses have the workforce they need in terms of skills and that businesses have a talent pipeline, she noted.”
“It’s not just about employees,” Duncan said. “Employers can reach out to NCWorks if they need services on their end.”
Jones indicated that having the NCWorks Career Center in Warren County will be especially beneficial to local residents.
“It is important to have it here,” he said. “People will not have to travel to Henderson or Oxford to get employment services.”