First Posted: 9/23/2009
FAYETTEVILLE The future economy is going to be a technology-based, and students need to prepare now for the jobs that will be created.
That was the message echoed throughout a meeting of about 100 educators, community leaders and employers at Seventy First High School on Tuesday who gathered to discuss how students can best be prepared to meet the job demands of a changing economy. The meeting was held by the NC STEM Community Collaborative, a group that is working to help communities develop and implement science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum in public schools, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities.
Tuesdays meeting, hosted by the BRAC Regional Task Force, served as a kick-off to the importance of STEM education in the regional public school systems, said retired Gen. Paul Dordal, the executive director of the BRAC Regional Task Force. The 11-county Fort Bragg region has been recognized for its educational efforts by the NC STEM Community Collaborative a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MCNC based in the Research Triangle Park and is one of three local regions in North Carolina being considered for Gates Foundation funding.
The world is changing. Sixty percent of jobs today require an advanced degree or beyond, said Joe Freddoso, the president and CEO of MCNC. The majority of students are prepared for jobs in a manufacturing economy… . But we have to shed the costs of the old system and put resources into the new system.
Freddoso told those at the meeting that he had been an executive with Sysco Systems for seven years and watched jobs go overseas. The jobs, he said, left the U.S. not because businesses found it less expensive to operate in other countries, but because there were larger, skilled labor pools available in those countries.
Dordal said that with increased troop movement through the region resulting from base realignments and closure, there will be an influx of high-tech defense and Homeland Security jobs.
Im already seeing the higher technology moving in, he said. Its not just these companies moving into the area because of BRAC. Its every company… We need a higher skilled work force.
As part of the service region for the BRAC Regional Task Force, Robeson Community College, the Robeson Countys public schools and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke have all been the recipients of advanced visualization technology for instruction that will capture the attention of students who are learning in the rapidly evolving technological world, according to RCC President Charles Chrestman. RCC is one of the founding partners of the Regional Community Collaborative.
RCC is also one of the recipients of a 3D unit that the All American Center for Workforce Innovation at Fayetteville Technical Community College has placed at one high school in each of the 11 counties and at seven of the regions community colleges. The 3D units broadcast interactive 3D images that teachers and students can manipulate as they work on a specific lesson.
There are so many things you can demonstrate to students this way, said Lynda W. Parlett, director of grants at RCC.
Parlett said that RCC hopes to start using the 3D unit this semester.
Dordal said that the systems were installed using grant money. He said that eventually he would like to see the 3D units installed in every middle school and high school in the 11-county BRAC region, but that wont be possible unless funding is available.
Maxton Mayor Gladys Dean was one Robeson County official at Tuesdays meeting. She said that she came to the meeting because of her interest in education.
Education is critical to sustain life, she said. You cant support life without it.