Age is just one characteristic that describes adult learners, and in today’s fast-paced world, the importance of continued education for this diverse group cannot be overstated. Learning is not limited to the confines of K-12 education, it extends far beyond, embracing adults who want to enhance their skills, pivot careers, or learn something new. North Carolina’s NC Reconnect program in collaboration with community colleges, including Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), plays a pivotal role in making continued education accessible to adult learners. Moreover, K-64, an advocate for lifelong learning, works to enhance student and employer engagement in educational programs that lay the foundation for a skilled and qualified workforce, regardless of age.
NC Reconnect is an initiative that helps adult learners across North Carolina access affordable higher education. The program is designed to assist individuals aged 24 and older who wish to return to college or university to complete a degree or earn a credential. NC Reconnect provides financial assistance through grants, making education more affordable for those who have previously faced barriers to furthering their education.
Here in Catawba County adult learners have access to an array of programs including associate degrees, certificates, and workforce training through CVCC. Further, Lenoir–Rhyne University and Appalachian State University offer a variety of programs for adult learners seeking a bachelor’s or other advanced degree. K-64 collaborates with employers to align courses with the workforce needs in Catawba County. Short term continued education programs, like Maintenance Tech Bootcamp and Construction Academy, have been a success in Catawba County due to the collaborative efforts of K-64, CVCC, and local businesses.
A well-educated workforce contributes to a region’s economic growth. K-64 recognizes the relationship between a well-educated workforce and economic prosperity, understanding that attracting businesses and boosting productivity is accomplished with a skilled labor force. In cases where specific educational or employer training needs are not being met, K-64 steps in to develop innovative programs and foster partnerships that ensure the workforce remains future-ready.
Continued education for adult learners is a powerful force for personal and community development. The barriers that once hindered adult education are being dismantled, thanks to the efforts of initiatives like NC Reconnect, institutions like Catawba Valley Community College, and the support of local businesses within Catawba County. These entities do not merely open doors to opportunities, but actively support a vibrant culture of lifelong learning within Catawba County. Together, they are reshaping education and ensuring that learners of all ages have the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in the workforce.
Discover the Belk Center’s latest edition of the Adult Learner Guidebook here.