As North Carolina faces an economic crisis amidst a pandemic, our community colleges will be key to recovery efforts.

North Carolina will undoubtedly turn to our 58 community colleges to train and retrain our state’s workforce to meet the increasing demands of a recovering economy and changing business world. To do that, our colleges need to be able to retain and recruit the best faculty and staff who can provide the training our students and businesses need to be successful.

Many businesses face the challenge of recruiting qualified, in-demand employees and then keeping those employees from leaving to go to another employer. North Carolina’s community colleges are no different. Attracting and keeping highly qualified professionals to prepare North Carolina’s future workforce continues to be a significant challenge – especially in high-demand, high-skilled areas such as nursing, technology and trades. Although North Carolina has the third largest community college system in the nation, community college faculty salaries, as a whole, consistently rank near the bottom in national comparisons.

As lawmakers consider many issues of importance to our state during this legislative session, our North Carolina community colleges are supporting legislation asking for a 7% salary increase for faculty and staff. If they were to receive this salary increase, it would be a significant step toward ensuring that North Carolina has the professionals in place to train the 700,000 students who enroll annually and to help business and industry emerge from the pandemic and rebuild the economy

TERRY BUMGARNER,

chairman, Wilkes Community

College Board of Trustees,

Wilkesboro, N.C.

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