LAURINBURG — As of July’s state employment figures, Scotland County continues to lead the state in the highest unemployment. Jobs, however, are available.
Almost 900 people in the county are without a job, giving Scotland it’s 7.8 percent unemployment rate. Coming in second to last is Edgecombe County near Raleigh, which has a 7.2 percent unemployment rate. Nearby Robeson County comes in No. 96 with a 6.2 percent jobless rate.
The state average for unemployment is currently 4.1 percent. According to the Division of Workforce Solutions Information and Communications Specialist Andrew Beal, historically unemployment can be based on seasonal patterns.
“Unemployment tends to decrease in northeastern North Carolina along the coast in the summer peak tourism season,” Beal said. “That would result in Scotland County placing higher in the summer, relative to counties in that area, even if little had changed in Scotland County as far as employment. Scotland also had the highest county unemployment rate in the state in July 2017.”
But there is some good news.
Currently, on the NCWorks website, there are 416 job listings available in Scotland County — representing at least 539 positions. Though the jobs dwindle depending on criteria, such as going all the way down to only 39 jobs representing 162 positions that are available for those with a high school diploma or less. Those numbers can change daily. A numerous amount of those jobs are in the health care field, but those need specific requirements.
According to Beal, in the 2018 Employer Needs Survey that the Department of Commerce released, 51 percent of rural employers cited a lack of education as a reason for their hiring difficulty, while 38 percent cited a lack of technical skills.
“The most common complaint among rural employers was simply a low number of applicants,” Beal said. “Although that may not be the case in Scotland County specifically, because the survey did not break it out by county. Still, these different factors can be related. People without the requisite skills and educational credentials tend not to apply at all for such jobs, for example.”
But NCWorks is still doing its best to help people find jobs. The local career center works with numerous local agencies to serve both job seekers and employers according to Beal. The center also held an “NCWorks 101 for Business” event on Aug. 1 to help employers use the system for posting jobs.
NCWorks staff offers more information about the jobs online and the training resources to help qualify for them.
“Our professional staff are dedicated to putting job seekers in the best possible position to obtain employment,” Beal said. “Whether it is through career exploration, scholarships, training, or help with developing their resume or job interview skills.”
Beal also believes that the growth of Richmond Community College’s facility in Scotland County will help as well. RCC will be making health care training more readily available for the coming year, which helps job seekers.
“This location should also help strengthen the talent pipeline for Scotland Health Care System,” Bode said. “And other employers with which our career center works.”
At the state level, Gov. Roy Cooper has begun an “NC Job Ready” initiative focused on education and skills attainment. Helping with this initiative is the “Finish Line Grants” program, which is designed to help address the issue. The grant helps community college students who have unforeseen financial emergencies graduate with the credentials they need to find employment.
Up to $7 million in federal funds will go to help students at participating community colleges pay for course materials, housing, medical needs, dependent care, or other financial emergencies.
The Laurinburg NCWorks Career Center is located at 303 N. Main St. and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]