Consortium of Triad community colleges led by Forsyth Tech to receive $5 million grant

A consortium of Triad community colleges led by Forsyth Technical has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

That grant is aimed at supporting community colleges in advancing career pathways in manufacturing to meet employers’ demand for more skilled workers.

Forsyth Tech will lead the “Aligning the Workforce Education System for Manufacturing” project, a consortium of eight community colleges across the Triad.

The other community colleges are:

  • Alamance Community College
  • Davidson-Davie Community College
  • Guilford Technical Community College
  • Montgomery Community College
  • Randolph Community College
  • Rockingham Community College
  • Surry Community College

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Forsyth Tech and our partner community colleges to build a clearer education workforce development system, ultimately making North Carolina more prosperous,” said Janet Spriggs, Forsyth Tech president.

“The ultimate outcome will ensure coordination between workers’ skills and employers’ expectations, resulting in an increased number of adults with well-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing.”

The foundational activity of these eight institutions will create a Business & Industry Leadership Team (BILT), which will give regional employers a co-leadership role for technical programs in machining and mechatronics.

$5 million grant goes to Forsyth Tech. The college will lead a regional effort to improve training for manufacturing jobs.

Forsyth Tech will use a new $5 million federal grant to lead a regional effort aimed at improving educational programs that lead to manufacturing jobs.

The Winston-Salem community college is the only North Carolina institution — and one of just 11 nationally — to receive this U.S. Department of Labor grant.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Forsyth Tech and our partner community colleges to build a clearer education-workforce development system, ultimately making North Carolina more prosperous,” Forsyth Tech President Janet Spriggs said in a news release put out by the college.

Forsyth Tech will work with seven other area community colleges in a 12-county region to produce more and better-trained workers for the advanced manufacturing sector.

The consortium plans to revise existing classes and training programs and start new ones in several advanced manufacturing areas, including machining, mechatronics, welding and industrial maintenance. Some new programs could start as early as this fall, while some others are slated to launch in 2022.

Partnerships selected for Equity Transfer Initiative

Sixteen partnerships from 13 states representing 17 community colleges and 19 universities will participate in the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI), which aims to increase transfer rates for African-American, Hispanic, adult and first-generation learners.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will lead the initiative in partnership with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The ECMC Foundation and Ascendium Education Group are funding the two-year ETI, through which selected partnering two-year and four-year institutions will receive up to $27,500 to advance transfer pathways and align them to increase transfer and completion for underrepresented student populations.



WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of $40 million through the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program to build the capacity of community colleges to meet labor market demand for a skilled workforce.

As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners for the public workforce system to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries such as health care, logistics and cybersecurity. The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants aim to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment. The grants also build the capacity of community colleges to address challenges associated with the pandemic, such as expanding online and technology-enabled learning.

“The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will play an important role in helping workers to reskill as quickly as possible with industry-recognized credentials and accelerated pathways to degrees,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “These grants are among the range of actions the Department is taking to aid American workers and employers as our nation combats the coronavirus pandemic.”


Forsyth Tech teams with Foxit’s PhantomPDF to go digital

Foxit Software, a leading provider of innovative PDF products and services, helping knowledge workers to increase their productivity and do more with documents, today announced that Forsyth Technical Community College is leveraging Foxit’s PhantomPDF as its PDF Software solution in order to move away from traditional paper workflows and accelerate the schools digital transformation across numerous departments. Forsyth Tech has been offering vocation instruction and training in skilled trades since 1960. Today, the school has expanded to nine campus locations and offer college transfer, two-year degree programs, short-term training, corporate training, continuing education, personal enrichment classes, and much more.

Forsyth Tech, an institution that focuses on its student success in learning and equity, instituted goals to shift to a more digital and remote-friendly campus and was searching for a solution that could accelerate campus-wide digital transformation and create innovative ways to convert workflows from paper-based to digital. The search lead to Foxit’s desktop editor, PhantomPDF, which provided the right PDF features to move away from traditional paper workflows. With PhantomPDF, Forsyth Tech could use PDF documents to enable communication and collaboration through a common, standardized, portable and secure electronic file format. This made documents viewable on all devices, making it possible for anyone on and off campus to have access to the resources they needed.


The Trades Shops Building at the Forsyth Tech Stokes County Center offers several new trades classes for spring

Learn a new trade in 2021 and be on your way to a new career.

With many jobs shifting or being eliminated during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to learn a skilled trade. For some trades, it takes only a few short months to go from beginner to earning a license, starting a new career or moving to a new level. Short-term classes are now offered at the new Forsyth Tech Trades Shops Building.

Scott Crews, program coordinator said, “With many current workers aging out or retiring, there is a huge demand for skilled trade workers such as electricians, plumbers, and welders. One of the most valuable skills is having a combination of all these skills to basically fix anything. This even allows you to start your own business.”

WeldingAt the Trades Shops Building, classes are offered in short-term programs in horticulture, electrical systems, plumbing and welding. Many classes are offered in the evening for flexibility and convenience. Students who’ve taken advantage of these classes have demonstrated enthusiasm and excitement for learning new skills or honing the ones they have.

For Hope Hudson, her father inspired her to learn welding to help him in his hobby of restoring his 1969 Chevrolet Nova.

“I had started in cosmetology and then took a certified nursing assistant class but when I found welding, I liked it so much that I continued learning. Now have a full-time job in welding!”

Retiree Jim Caragol is another welding student who just wanted to learn a new skill and said his classes in Stokes have been a good learning experience.

The Trades Shops Building opened in 2019 with clean and inviting classrooms containing all the latest equipment for welding and electrical.

In the electrical class, the students were a combination of retirees and full-time employees in other fields. Terrence Jones, a full-time printing press operator, said, “I always wanted to do electrical work, so I came to the Forsyth Tech Trades Shops Building in Stokes to see what was offered.”

Mark Linville, a retired shop teacher, wanted to upgrade his skills and enjoys being back in the classroom as a student. Paulina Ruffino works with her family in construction and wanted to polish her electrical skills. Gray Marshall, who works with computers wanted to try something new. And, Margaret Naughton, who had worked in theater production is taking time to learn more about electrical systems for lighting so she can return to work once theaters reopen.

Instructors in the Trades Shop Building are licensed in their fields and take pleasure in sharing their knowledge through teaching. Tommy Bragg, electrical instructor, has been a licensed electrician since 1996, has worked as an inspector and has his own company.

Crews said the class sizes are limited now due to social distancing, but they are eager to help students find what they enjoy.

“With classes only taking a few weeks, students can try something out, see if they like it and see if they want to pursue the next level,” said Crews who has worked in short-term training for 14 years with Forsyth Tech.

“Employers are not always looking for degrees, but are looking for skilled employees who are creative, know how to think outside the box and solve problems. Adult learners who are continuing their education often already have the soft skills to build relationships with other employees. We can teach them trade skills.”

Stokes also offers courses in kitchen countertops, makeovers and horticulture where homeowners can save a lot of money doing the work themselves.

Imagine learning a new skill in 2021! New classes begin in February at the Trades Shops Building and at different times throughout the spring semester.

To register for a class or for more information go to

Hope Hudson Picture

Hope Hudson takes a break before getting back to welding in class at the Trades Shop Building.

DOL awards $40M for workforce development

The U.S. Department of Labor will award a total of $40 million to 10 institutions, including nine community colleges, to build their capacity to meet demands for a skilled workforce.

“As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners for the public workforce system to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries such as healthcare, logistics and cybersecurity,” DOL said in a press release announcing the awards. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants (SCCTG) aim to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment.”

The grants also build the capacity of community colleges to address challenges associated with the pandemic, such as expanding online and technology-enabled learning.

The SCCTG program is intended to be a successor to previous similar programs, such as the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants and the Community-Based Job Training Grants. It aims to address the skill development needs of employers and to support workers in gaining skills and transitioning quickly from unemployment to employment, according to DOL.

Grant recipients are individual community colleges or a consortium of community colleges undertaking capacity building and systems change at the institutional or state level. Selected institutions will work with workforce development systems and employers to train a broad spectrum of workers, including dislocated workers, incumbent workers and new entrants to the workforce, according to DOL.


Forsyth Tech waives fees for many high school students taking college classes

Many high school students who take colleges classes at Forsyth Tech are getting a financial break.

The Forsyth County community college is waiving fees for high school students who take one or two classes each semester through the Career and College Promise program.

The new fee waiver will save eligible students at least $65 each semester. Career and College Promise students already don’t pay tuition to take classes at Forsyth Tech.

College leaders say the fee waiver could encourage more low-income students to enroll in Career and College Promise, a program that lets students earn college credits while still in high school.
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The Fragility and the Power of our Democracy

Image of the captitol building

This was my Tweet on Wednesday, January 6, 2021:

“January 6, 2021 … #Heartbroken #NoWords”

The events that unfolded that day, among the historic halls of the United States Capitol in the heart of our nation’s Capital, were an assault on our democracy. The right to protest is a primary tenet of a strong and healthy democratic government, and I believe peaceful protests did occur that day. However, the siege of our Capitol Building, and the violence and death stemming from it, bear witness to the fragility of a democracy, even a powerful republic that has endured and thrived for almost 245 years.

I am reminded of the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

And so, I add my voice to the countless voices around our country denouncing the appalling actions of January 6, 2021, that sought to disrupt a hallmark of our democracy – the peaceful transition of presidential power.

As I reflect on the events last week, my heart remains burdened, but I also have hope. We must never allow ourselves to take our country’s freedoms and our democracy for granted – they are fragile and vulnerable. However, last week I believe we also bore witness to the incredible strength and power of the principles of a free and democratic society as our legislators completed the work prescribed by our forefathers, certifying the election and moving us towards a successful transition of power.

Our rights as citizens of a democratic republic come with accountability to each other and to our system of laws and the institutions that ensure the rights and safety of all people, even those with whom we staunchly disagree. We must not condone, and moreover we must always condemn actions that fundamentally disrupt democratic norms, while at the same time remaining steadfastly loyal to the principles of freedom guaranteed to each of us by Amendment I of our Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The very diversity of backgrounds, thoughts and beliefs represented at Forsyth Tech can make us even stronger if we continue to learn from each other and, without sacrificing our individuality, recognize the beauty in the differences that make our institution and our country great. We embrace diversity and inclusion among our students, faculty and staff, and are intolerant of discrimination in all forms. Some of the core educational principles in community colleges are teaching students to respect each other, value other opinions, understand critical thinking, and appreciate our responsibilities as American citizens.

Last week in my New Year message to staff and faculty, I introduced our College’s #OneWord for 2021: UNITE. Perhaps in the wake of events at the Capitol, the need for unity to prevail, even as we agree to disagree, is even more imperative. Our country remains sharply divided and I am certain there is great diversity of thought and opinion within our Forsyth Tech community as well.  Regardless of where we stand politically and irrespective of our personal and individual beliefs, we must respect the democratic processes and laws of our great nation.  At Forsyth Tech, we must also respect the core values of our great institution – excellence, learning, innovation, diversity, and integrity.

We will not soon forget the events of January 6, 2021, and may what happened on that day, remind us of the responsibilities of a democratic society and the mandate to hold each other accountable for civility and respect for one another, even when we disagree.