CHARLOTTE – We hear a lot about the skills gap – people without jobs and jobs without people.
But in the accompanying video, Jennifer Haygood, Acting President of the NC Community College System, describes what’s known as the “interest gap” – a lack of interest in or awareness of the jobs available with an industry certificate or two-year degree.
“We have to close what’s called the interest gap,” Haygood says in an interview before the Aim Higher, Achieve More event sponsored by the Higher Education Works Foundation with support from Bank of America.
“We have vacancies – openings – in our construction industry, our transportation industry, our manufacturing industry, among others…. We have programs to train students in these areas, but we don’t have enough students who are enrolling in these areas.”
Haygood cites two reasons for the gap.
“A lot of students don’t realize that these industries have evolved, and they’re not the ‘dirty’ jobs that their parents perhaps have had in the past. They are high-tech industries these days that need high-tech skills,” she says.
“Secondly, a lot of students don’t understand and realize the salary and compensation opportunities in these industries, and we need to do a better job not only in communicating those opportunities, but also in society valuing jobs that require technical skills.
“We have a lot of good-paying, important jobs that can be available to students just with an industry certification or with a two-year degree.”