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Viewpoint: Greensboro needs talent, and here’s what we can do about it

Thank you to the Triad Business Journal for including an op-ed piece sharing a viewpoint on the need for talent in our region, submitted by Beth Mannella, Program Director for the Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program.

Read the article here or below:

The Triad Talent Alignment Strategy recently reported that over the next 10 years, 19,000 degrees or certificates will be needed to fill 40,000 new jobs in the Piedmont Triad region. An estimated half of these new jobs will be in Greensboro and require a degree or certificate. As a reference point, our region produced 24,000 degrees and certifications in 2015.

Greensboro has a competitive advantage as a talent hub with 50,000 students and seven diverse institutions of higher learning (Bennett College, Elon University School of Law, Greensboro College, Guilford Technical Community College, Guilford College, North Carolina A&T State University, and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). We are home to the number one producer of African American undergraduate engineering degrees in the nation and the most diverse campus in the UNC system, among other national rankings of our private institutions.

To meet the growth of our region, we must leverage our strengths and stay competitive in attracting and retaining jobs/industry, while nurturing and retaining our well-educated and skilled workforce. Economic developers are now using the term “stickiness” to define a city’s ability to retain workforce. Cities are adapting in many ways to stay competitive – everything from marketing campaigns, urban development, environmental and cultural programs, and internships and apprenticeships.

By way of the Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program, one focus area for Greensboro is paid internships. Why are internships important for our region? Students attending local college and universities do not know our local industry and assume there are no post-graduate opportunities for them to pursue here. Thus, local students who want to stay in NC are looking to move to Raleigh and Charlotte post-graduation. Increasing awareness of the local industry and job opportunities in our region can lead to attracting and retaining a younger workforce. One route for our community and region to continue supporting is paid internships for college students as a pipeline to our future workforce.

The Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program is one strategy currently in place and 2018 will be the third year of this program. The Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program has a multiplier effect as it offers leadership, professional and soft skills development that students need to be successful. In addition, the program provides the social capital to make connections, which are necessary in the job search, while also partnering with local companies that provide hands-on experience in the workplace. Many companies already provide paid summer internships, but for those who have not considered this in the past, hosting interns reaps many benefits for businesses. Here are a couple of my tips for why hosting interns is important and beneficial:

  • Ability for a short term, low cost training that becomes a pipeline for new hires (test driving your talent). I coach students on realizing an internship is a 10-week interview!
  • Think about those projects that make it on the back burner but need to be completed. An intern can add value to your team and help complete these projects.
  • Interns bring new perspectives to your company’s clients, product research, and social media.
  • Promoting your brand to the local student population helps your organizations and our greater economy with attracting and retaining talent. After completing the 2017 Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program, 91% of Fellows said they understand the leading industries in Greensboro.


We need to have the foresight to stay competitive. If you’re not training your next employee, you’re training our local economy’s next employee. The Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program makes it turnkey. Contact me today for more information: fellows@actiongreensboro.org.