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
86.1%

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

Average Wage
$48,580

Earned in scientific, professional & technical services, annually

College and Universities
30+

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.

Region C Workforce Development Board: Businesses benefit from the Region C Workforce Development Board’s work through multiple employer and job-seeker programs that meet workforce needs and the challenges of global competition. Employer programs include recruitment and screening assistance, labor market information, hiring events and training.

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.

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.

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:

With 15,500-plus students, Cleveland County Schools is one of the top 25 districts in North Carolina and the largest employer within the county. Among its 29 institutions are three U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools – Crest High School, Jefferson Elementary School and East Elementary School – and the system itself earned a place on the College Board’s AP Honor Roll.

The district’s diverse curriculum includes robust Career and Technical Education comprised of programs for advanced manufacturing, carpentry, formation, technology, health science, marketing, finance and others. Technology is a core component of classwork and operations, with Cleveland County Schools recognized for integration of technology initiatives.

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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