by Amy Daniels
Pitt Community College’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division may be the best kept secret in Pitt County, according to the division’s Dean Dr. Kristin Braswell. Since taking the reins of the Continuing Education and (formerly) Community Development Division in 2014, Braswell has focused on restructuring and re-branding the division for a greater focus on occupational training.
With extensive experience working with Fayetteville Technical Community College developing curriculum programs and occupational training programs, Braswell has utilized the knowledge from her doctorate work in higher education leadership and organization leadership to bring quality job skills training programs to Pitt County Community College.
Braswell says that the goal of the Continuing Education and Workforce Development division is to “help the under-employed, unemployed, and those looking for career advancement to get the training they need and get right to work.” Many graduates of PCC’s short term training programs have job offers on the table by the time they complete their program requirements.
Braswell and her team work directly with local business and industry leaders to determine what training to provide and to develop new programs that will grow the local economy by producing workforce-ready graduates.
Many of the short-term training programs are designed to educate and prepare students to enter the workforce upon completion in just a few short months, like healthcare, EMT, and construction trades. Others, like cosmetology and barber school, can take a year to complete. Additional programs of study include classes in automotive, law enforcement, fire and rescue, real estate, and the new Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) beginning soon. PCC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division provides training for those looking to start a new career or to update skills.
Growing Career Opportunities in Health Care
The Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division provides a variety of programs for students interested in entering health care services. With minimal requirements, students can begin working towards certifications including Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Phlebotomy, EKG Monitor Technician, Pharmacy Technician, and Medication Aide. The average U.S. salary range for such jobs is between $29,000 – $36,000 per year.
“The programs complement each other,” explains Sylvia James, Coordinator for the Nursing Assistant Program. “If you want to go into an acute care facility, the more certifications you have, the more marketable you’re going to make yourself.”
Many students enter the training programs right out of high school, while others are in search of a new career. “We have some people who come in from the community and this is their first time in school in twenty years,” says James. “We work with them to help them see that they can grow. They have an instructor that is there to support them. Their faces just light up when they see that they can do something new.”
According to James, students who complete the health care training programs are at an advantage due to the current state of the health care system because they can learn an additional skill set in a relatively short period of time. “With the nursing shortage, facilities are needing to manage their workforce. If they don’t have a large volume of nurses, they rework their workforce so they have a team that can take more patients. “
Working hand in hand with community partners such as Vidant, Cypress Glen Continuing Care Retirement Community, MacGregor Downs Health & Rehabilitation Center and other clinical locations, students practice the skills learned in the classroom in a real world setting with the guidance of clinical instructors and veteran health care workers.
In addition to job-skills training, Dean Braswell ensures students receive a variety of essential “soft skills” such has learning how to apply for a job and present well during an interview. “They have to have the desire to want to help people and have the people skills needed. We are state mandated how many hours are required in each area but we do intertwine soft skills in there, too. We train you in the job skills, and we also train you to apply for the job, interview for the job, as well as maintain the job once you get onto the job site.”
“Communication is huge,” echoes James, “Students learn a lot of that in the classroom. They come together with people from different cultures and they figure out how to work together. They come together and learn how to work together as a team. They learn to communicate and when they leave the classroom and go out into the workforce they take those skills with them. Something I hear students say a lot is, ‘We started this program and didn’t know what to expect or where we were going. We started as individuals and now we ended as a family.’”
Braswell adds, “Our program wouldn’t be where it is today without the dedication and leadership of our Healthcare Director, Sidette Boyce Brown. Not only does she keep us compliant with the many state mandated guidelines, but the passion she has for the success of her students is evident in all that she does.”
For more information about the Pitt Community College Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division, visit www.pittcc.edu and click on Continuing Education or call 252.493.7388. A full list of occupational training programs can be found online and in the Spring Semester Course Catalog. Many of the health care training programs have classes starting again in April and May. Program requirements are also detailed in the catalog.