Human Services Career Pathway for the Future Workforce Alliance

The Future Workforce Alliance (FWA) is comprised of three regional workforce development boards and encompasses 15 counties in western North Carolina: Foothills Workforce Development Board (Cleveland, McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford counties); High Country Workforce Development Board (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey counties); and Western Piedmont  Workforce Development Board (Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties).  On August 11, 2021, the NCWorks Commission approved the FWA’s Human Services Career Pathway.

A Career Pathway is an integrated system of development programs that ensure the training individuals receive meets the present and future needs of businesses.

According to the NC Department of Commerce Labor Economic and Analysis Division (LEAD) NC Employer Projections 2018-2028 summary report, “Healthcare and Social Assistantance, the largest industry in North Carolina’s economy, is projected to add the most jobs (81,000) and have the second highest percentage growth (13.7%).”  Growth occupations in this industry include Child, Family, and School Social Workers; Healthcare Social Workers; Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors; and Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers.

Key stakeholders, including employers, community partners, and educators were invited to informational meetings beginning in November of 2020.  Three employer/partner meetings took place to determine the occupational and employer demands of the region’s Human Services industry.  Through collaboration and participation in employer/community partner panels and focus groups all involved expressed current and future employment and training concerns.  Each meeting included relevant information such as available internship assistance, training opportunities, and the different types of occupations across the human services industry beyond social services.  Additional workforce board team meetings were held to begin developing the pathway criteria.

With further support and endorsement from the NCWorks Commission, the Future Workforce Alliance and its partners will work to establish branding and messaging for the Human Services Career Pathway and conduct follow-up meetings to ensure there are sustaining and growing internship opportunities for students and adults.