Evolving to meet community needs

RCC’s Workforce and Economic Development to turn 4

By Wylie Bell
Richmond Community College

HAMLET — It’s been nearly four years since Robbie Taylor traded in his Richmond County Sheriff’s Office badge for a Richmond Community College ID badge, but he still carries the cool demeanor of a 13-year law enforcement veteran.

“Taylor,” the now Dr. Robbie Taylor says flatly when answering the phone in his office in the Conder building at RCC’s main campus in Hamlet, before engaging in a conversation about an upcoming emergency management class.

A Richmond Community College photo Robbie Taylor is leading RCC’s Workforce and Economic Development division in creating viable training programs for businesses and industries and enrichment courses for people looking to gain new skills.

A Richmond Community College photo
Robbie Taylor is leading RCC’s Workforce and Economic Development division in creating viable training programs for businesses and industries and enrichment courses for people looking to gain new skills.

“I was worried about being able to adapt to a slower pace when I left the sheriff’s office to come here,” said Taylor with a chuckle. “Now I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get done everything that needs to get done.”

Last May, Taylor moved from a director role to vice president of Workforce and Economic Development (WED). A multi-faceted division, WED served more than 6,500 students in 2014.

“What we do in this division is improve the lives of people by teaching them skills to get a job or gain additional skills to advance in the workforce,” Taylor said. “Some people don’t have the luxury of waiting two years to earn a college degree before searching for a job. Our classes aim to provide people with skills and credentials quickly and efficiently so they can get a job – and then maybe they come back and work on a degree.”

Meeting industry need

“This is not the old continuing education model that colleges have traditionally run,” said RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis. “While we still have the enrichment classes – the flower arranging and cooking classes – and those classes are important to us and our students, we now have a focus of serving the needs of the workforce.”

A quick glance at the current WED offerings confirms McInnis’s statement. RCC currently has classes scheduled ranging from welding techniques to notary public to truck driver training.

“We have to be entrepreneurial about how we approach our course offerings,” said Taylor, who recently earned his doctor of business administration degree to go with master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Louisville University. “Our directors in WED, Holly Russell and Lauren Holland and our public safety program director Chip Osborne are not creating classes in a vacuum. They are working closely with local manufacturers, government agencies, healthcare providers and other businesses to create classes that meet their current and future needs.”

Taylor cites the upcoming truck driver training and an injection molding class that is currently running as perfect examples of this coordination.

“Superior Cranes’ owner Joe Everett expressed a need for truck drivers,” Taylor said, “and we moved to make that happen and we will be registering students for a truck driver training course (that started Monday). Plastek Manufacturing has a need for injection molding machine operators. We were able to put together classes that will give people the skills to go to work in a matter of weeks.”

Customizable solutions

McInnis said one of the unique things about RCC’s efforts is the emphasis the college places on customized training for existing industry and their employees.

“Robbie, his staff and RCC as a whole put a lot of effort into getting training for citizens to get jobs, but we work continually with our partners to provide training for their current workforce to increase skill sets and efficiency,” said McInnis.

Lee Eller, RCC’s director of customized training, leads the college’s efforts working with existing industries to grow the talent of their employees.

“Lee is a fixture in plants in Richmond and Scotland counties,” said Taylor. “He has spearheaded our efforts to help manufacturers grow through a variety of trainings.”

Eller said through funds available from the state, local industries received nearly $95,000 in training for safety, new technology and machinery and more efficient business operations in 2014.

Public safety

With his law enforcement background, Taylor has put a renewed emphasis on the college’s public safety programs. Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) was reinstituted for 2015 and the college has been offering more in-service training for area law enforcement and fire and rescue agencies.

“We revamped our BLET program this year after a year hiatus,” Taylor said, “and Chip (Osborne) has been fortunate to be able to bring in a number of very good trainers to provide new training and skills for area law enforcement officers and rescue personnel.”

Those trainings include a successful series of S.W.A.T. trainings for local law enforcement and a swift water rescue class in response to the increased number of kayakers using area waterways.

“Having a partner like RCC to offer this training is invaluable,” said Detective Keith Mabe of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. “We do most of our training internally and bringing in the people that RCC has been able to bring in allows us to up the quality of the training that is available to our officers.

“This type of training is what is going to keep our officers alive.”

Still making a difference

Despite the obvious differences between his former career and his new, Taylor’s motivation remains the same.

“I went into law enforcement because I wanted to help people,” said Taylor. “That didn’t change when I came to Richmond Community College. At the end of the day it’s about affecting positive change in peoples’ lives and I am proud of how much of that we do here.”

For more information

To learn more about the upcoming truck driver training class or any other WED course, please contact Myra Locklear at 910-410-1831 or mllocklear@richmondcc.edu.

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