On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, and Representative Virginia A. Foxx visited two of Forsyth Tech’s state-of-the-art facilities. The purpose of the visit was to observe first-hand the leadership role the college is playing in creating unique apprenticeship opportunities for students with regional industry partners and supporting regional workforce development through innovative training programs.
The first stop for Perez and Foxx was the Forsyth Electrical Lineman Pre-Apprenticeship program located at the Northwest Forsyth Center in King, NC. Students enrolled in this program acquire academic and hands-on experience in the utility industry. Top regional employers, including Pike Electric and Duke Energy, recruit program graduates to participate in a paid apprenticeship program.
The Secretary and Congresswoman observed multiple student demonstrations modeling general and emergency procedures on the electrical poles, which highlighted the students’ advanced technical capabilities.
In a conversation with some of the students, Perez said, “You all have a really bright future ahead; the sky is truly the limit.”
Perez and Foxx also visited the Oak Grove Center on Forsyth Tech’s Main Campus in Winston-Salem to view the college’s new, high-tech Science Skills Lab, which is utilized by biology, chemistry and biotech students.
The lab was funded by a $15 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCT) grant awarded to Forsyth Tech by the U.S. Department of Labor in the fall of 2012. Forsyth Tech’s bioscience programs have produced highly skilled workers who are now employed by top area companies including Herbalife, Carolina Liquid Chemistries and the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
In their conversation with Perez and Foxx, bioscience students expressed appreciation for the lab’s flexible hours. Currently, the lab is open and staffed from 7 am-10 pm. Beginning in fall 2015, the lab will also be open on weekends to accommodate student schedules. Students also spoke highly of the relevance and practicality of the experiments conducted and the specialized skills they are developing.
Dr. Gary Green, president of Forsyth Tech, explained how the bioscience programs meet students where they are, working with their schedules and making their education possible.
Following the lab tour, Perez and Foxx met with top area employers for a roundtable discussion of Forsyth Tech’s current momentum and future. Some of the local employers who participated included Nanotech Labs, Inc., NC Biotechnology Center, Herbalife, and Wake Forest Innovations. Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines was also in attendance.
Foxx, a former community college president herself, commented, “Forsyth Tech has been a vital part of the community since it began, leading in innovation for the state and the country.”
At the conclusion of the roundtable discussion, Perez commended participants saying, “You have built culture in your collaborations.”
About Forsyth Tech
Forsyth Tech provides students with flexible educational pathways to a competitive workforce for the community and global economy. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in more than 200 programs of study, including programs that promote personal and professional development through non-credit courses and seminars, as well as customized training for business and industry. Forsyth Tech is the sixth largest community college in North Carolina and serves more than 35,000 students with approximately 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff.
Secretary Perez, Representative Foxx, and Dr. Gary Green, Forsyth Tech President with the Electrical Lineman Students and Instructors at the Northwest Forsyth Center
Secretary Perez observes a student demonstration in the Science Skills Lab