Workforce & Education

Forces at Work

Educated and Motivated, Cleveland County’s Talent is Ambitious

Progressive and varied industries are the heart of Cleveland County’s economy. Maintaining that pulse is a highly-skilled, well-rounded workforce that’s developed and supported by area schools, community colleges and universities with training resources and nationally recognized academia. New to Cleveland County or expanding, businesses can count on a dependable, educated talent pool that’s just as wide as it is deep.

Educational Attainment

of the population holds a high school degree or higher, 2021

Average Wage

Earned in scientific, professional & technical services, annually

College and Universities

In and Around Cleveland County

Gardner-Webb University
98% of Students

Are employed or in grad school six months after graduation

More than 86 percent of Cleveland County’s population has attained a high school or advanced degree. While the region’s workforce is well rounded, many employees are concentrated in the fields of manufacturing, healthcare, retail trade and construction.

By the numbers, workforce availability is on the rise. The population of the greater Charlotte region, of which Cleveland County is a part, increased 3.6% from 2014 to 2018. Additionally, North Carolina has the second-lowest unionization rate in the United States at 3.4 percent.

Cleveland Community College Workforce & Career Development Center: Leadership and skills development are two focus areas for the Workforce & Career Development. The center’s programs and academies offer general and customized training in areas such as finance, cybersecurity and technology, robotics and others. Professionals may also receive assistance with job placement.

Foothills Workforce Development Board: The Foothills Workforce Development Board facilitates the delivery of workforce development programs in McDowell, Rutherford, Cleveland and Polk Counties; monitor quality and continuously improve programs; develop and maintain a unified system of delivery; and promote the economic well being of our customers by providing high quality and accessible workforce development programs and related services. Our customers are job seekers, training seekers, and employers.

Gardner-Webb University: A private liberal arts school located in Boiling Springs, Gardner-Webb University is home to six professional schools that offer 80-plus undergraduate and graduate fields of study. In 2013, U.S. News & World Report placed the university among the top 35 in the South. Their
accelerated 10 month MBA program is one of the top-rated programs
in the country, and one of the area’s most affordable.

Within the university’s Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship, business experts provide counseling and training to promote growth, expansion, innovation and productivity. Gardner-Webb also offers tuition credits to qualifying companies who meet certain new job thresholds.

Cleveland Community College: Located in Shelby, Cleveland Community College is a comprehensive, public two-year college offering more than 120 programs ranging from fifteen-hour certificate programs to two-year associates degrees in arts, applied science, advanced manufacturing and fine arts.

CCC is currently constructing a 45,000 sqft Advanced Technology Center on their campus, which will house Electrical Engineering, Automation Engineering, Industrial Systems/Facilities Maintenance, Machining and Mechanical Drafting programs. It will include a conference room, general classroom, computer lab, high-bay training spaces and a 5-ton crane, all of which is being designed to support training for local industries. Additionally, the facility will provide office space for CCEDP and other workforce development partners and is expected to be completed by July 2022.

Each year, more than 10,000 individuals and 250 companies take advantage of the college’s Corporate and Continuing Education training, as well as programs offered in cooperation with private industry and the Department of Labor. The school houses a Workforce and Career Development Center that assists individuals in Cleveland County by sharpening skills and assisting with job placement. Prospective employers use the center’s resources to identify prospective employees.

Additional colleges and universities: A multitude of higher education institutions call Cleveland County and neighboring areas home. Some of them include:

Cleveland County Schools mission is to cultivate excellence by providing student-centered exceptional educational experiences while challenging all students to perform at their highest potential. With some 14,000 students, Cleveland County Schools has over 3,000 students earning industry-recognized credentials each year. Within its 29 facilities and an online learning school, Cleveland County Schools is the largest employer in the county with over 20% of the district’s teachers having their National Board Certification. Recognized as the ‘Best Place to Work in Cleveland County’ for four consecutive years,
Cleveland County Schools is also ranked #1 in the nation in United Way per capita contributions.

In Shelby, the Cleveland Early College High School is an innovative non-traditional school that guides students to a high school diploma and associate degree in four or five years. Students earn real-world, hands-on experience they may take directly into the workplace or on to additional college studies.

High school graduates from Cleveland Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Academies offer another source of talent for local companies. In addition to receiving their high school and college degrees, students earn on-the-job training and industry-recognized credentials in their area of study, including automation engineering technology, computer-integrated machining technology, facility maintenance technology, industrial systems technology, mission critical operations/operations technology and welding technology.

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