Please join us in congratulating NC3’s April 2021 School on the Rise Brunswick Community College in Bolivia, North Carolina! Brunswick Community College (BCC) is paving the way for technical education in their rural community.
With an outstanding Multicultural program, Brunswick Community College offers unparalleled opportunities for students to earn technical credentials. With the support of highly dedicated and experienced instructors, BCC students are able to hone the skills and knowledge they need to begin promising careers in their region’s workforce.
Since joining NC3’s Leadership School Network in 2019, Brunswick Community College has already implemented 9 different NC3 Certification Programs: Snap-on, Greenlee, Festo, 3M, Trane, Starrett, mikeroweWORKS Foundation, Lincoln Electric, and Certiport. With growth like that, it’s no wonder that Brunswick Community College is one of the top community colleges in the region! In a recent interview, Gene Smith, Brunswick Community College President, explained his school’s motivation to implement NC3 Certifications. He said,
“I’ve had experience with NC3 prior to becoming President at Brunswick Community College. I had worked at Wayne Community College and saw the benefits there; I knew that if we were able to implement NC3 at BCC we would bring our programs up several notches and we would be providing opportunities to our students. I think that by joining the NC3 Leadership School Network and providing these opportunities for our students, it has lifted the quality of our courses and it’s lifted the quality of our training as well as the quality of experience. It’s also helped with retention and with our student’s understanding that when they come to Brunswick Community College, they will get a top-notch education on subjects that are relevant to both business and industry.”
With the technical trades in such high demand in their region of North Carolina, Brunswick Community College understands the need for skilled workers and prepares their students to be ready for the industry. Greg Bland, Vice President for Continuing Education, Economic, and Workforce Development, further explained, “We meet with small business owners and employers and there’s always a common theme that we encounter: they would much rather have verification in the form of a credential that confirms the student has full command of the equipment that is going to be used at their place of employment. Not only that, they want to see real world skills, not just theoretical concepts. Those employer demands certainly align with the product that NC3 delivers.”
Beyond earning the necessary skills that NC3 Certifications provide, Brunswick Community College students are able to rise above other job candidates to earn higher salaries. Richard Bowie, Welding Director, stated,
“I’ve had students that were offered jobs at higher pay rates because they had NC3 certifications, especially around safety. One student was offered a job at a Navy shipyard working on submarines, but because he had the NC3 3M Safety Certifications, he was actually offered higher pay because they felt like he was ahead of the other candidates. Industry credentials are a benefit all the way around when it comes to student employment opportunities.”
Students in North Carolina are also beginning to see the benefit of pursuing Career and Technical Education. With exposure to the technical trades beginning on a secondary level in many areas, students are discovering a broader spectrum of degree options. Richard added, “I deal with high school students on a regular basis. We have a very strong Career College Pathway program that integrates high schoolers into the community college system with the intent to succeed and it’s counted as part of their high school program. Most of my students say they’d rather focus on a vocational trade as opposed to a four-year education and a lot of it has to do with cost. Many of my students actually work part-time plus go to school and they see the value of having a high level of skill sets. The NC3 training helps them reach that level of expertise.”
Greg added by explaining how Brunswick Community College acknowledges their student’s decisions when considering different career paths. He said,
“With students making the decision on whether they want to pursue a 4-year degree or a 2-year degree, there are things we can do for those who have a mechanical aptitude. Maybe they say they want to go the 4-year route because that’s what the crowd is doing but they know that they have technical skills and natural abilities that lend themselves to a 2-year degree and then joining the workforce. I think if we can celebrate them, shed a positive light on skilled trades, and can bring dignity to those areas, it will help students understand that they don’t have to follow the crowd; they can be their own person.”
Marilyn Graham, Director of Multicultural Workforce Development and Outreach, was excited to share more details about the expanded opportunities available to students at Brunswick Community College by offering bilingual courses. She explained,
“My focus is, in large part, the Hispanic Community in our area. We have both English speaking students and Spanish speaking students so we have a pretty diverse group. Our bilingual instructors offer the classes in Spanish so we’ve translated the NC3 PowerPoints and use Google translator for the certification exams for students who are struggling with any of the English terminology. The students love the equipment that goes with the certification and so do the instructors. If you have instructors that are excited, the students will be excited to earn the certifications too.”
Greg expanded on the importance of this multicultural initiative by saying, “In North Carolina, when we look at ESL training we categorized students into six different ESL categories; everything from beginner-basic all the way to expert. The industry is desperate for skilled craftsmen and women so we want to provide equal opportunities to everybody. We find students all understand there is value in the English language but they’re all at different language levels. Some of our Hispanic students rely very little on the translated materials but we certainly have others who need help with understanding equipment identification and concepts in English. We made an investment in terms of non-instructional funds in the translation of that material and we’re really proud of it. It all goes back to the gap in our workforce. There is such a demand for employees who can do this type of work and we feel it was a worthy investment to make.”
The team at Brunswick Community College also greatly values NC3’s Train-the-Trainer events, and feels they’ve played a large part in shaping the programs at Brunswick Community College. Greg shared,
“I attended the mikeroweWORKS Work Ethics Train-the-Trainer course last summer and it was like I was a student again. I was taught the material and I had to do my homework. It was a great experience. I learned what was captivating and I think the personal stories as well as the videos presented during the training helped me understand how to be more engaging with our students.”
Richard Bowie also recalled his experience with NC3’s Train-the-Trainer events. He says, “Train-the-Trainer has enabled me to quit using a textbook. It has helped us significantly in actually presenting the material because before this I would give them a textbook and then we’d just go to the lab. I think all of the instructors here would say the same.”
After Greg attended the MRW Work Ethic Train-the-Trainer event last summer, they’ve recently started implementing the curriculum and have hit the ground running! “The curriculum addresses soft skills, work ethic, and professionalism,” Greg said. “These are the areas that employers in our state consistently need assistance with and the same message/request can be heard throughout the nation.”
Brunswick Community College has goals to continue growing its Career and Technical Education Certification programs so they can offer even more opportunities to their students. When asked what’s next to Brunswick Community College, Gene Smith shared,
“As we continue to grow, it’s only going to make our college better and make the experience for our students better. NC3 Certifications are going to continue to help us to stand out as a community college in North Carolina. We want to be the best that we can be. We want to be the best in the state, and the best in the nation. That’s our goal and we feel like NC3 is one of the pathways that’s going to help us get there. We value our partnership with NC3 and I think we’re grasping the importance of NC3 Certifications while taking advantage of the opportunities continuously presented. The future is bright for Brunswick Community College.”
Thank you to everyone at Brunswick Community College for pursuing excellence in bettering the lives and careers of your students and your community! We are honored to recognize you as NC3’s April School on the Rise. Congratulations, once again, from all of us at NC3!
Stay tuned for our next School on the Rise recipient in May 2021!
Questions about NC3’s School on the Rise? Please contact Erika Staackmann, Customer Success Coordinator, 847.533.6985, Erika.Staackmann@nc3.net