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Perdue emphasizes industry, education collaboration at aerospace roundtable

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GREENSBORO - Gov. Bev Perdue toured GTCC's aviation center at PTI Airport Wednesday while attending an aerospace workforce roundtable. She stressed the important role of companies, education and government in helping spawn a skilled workforce and growth in the state's aviation and aerospace industries.

Perdue said North Carolina should be a leader in aviation and her Task Force on Aviation Workforce Development, whose pilot program includes several Piedmont employers, is making strides to reach that goal.

"This is a community college system working with leaders like you to come together and identify the skill sets that folks need to be trained in to be fully and gainfully employed in an aerospace sector," said Perdue.

As a result, she said, companies from around the world were looking at the Triad as the place to be if they want to grow their brand in the U.S.

"And they want to grow that brand with a talented workforce," Perdue said.

Local leaders said it was important to keep the program on a fast track.

"Because we are catching up with skilled needs for this particular industry," said Lillian Plummer, executive director of the Guilford County Workforce Development Board.

A vice president of Greensboro-based TIMCO Aviation Services said companies needed to collaborate with schools to ensure their curriculum will produce qualified workers.

"And also, that we're working with them to bring people into whether it's an internship, apprenticeship, but get them exposed to our companies and to our industry so that they're ready to go," said Kip Blakely.

Students said internships were a valuable part of their education and future.

"You get lots of experience, good training and it looks quite well on a resume," said Tim Johnson.

The college sits at the table with companies from day one.

"We bring them to a facility like this to demonstrate that we have the capacity and are capable to do the high level of training that they need as they come," said GTCC president Randy Parker.

Parker said GTCC graduates, with their industry and federal certifications, had the right stuff.

"And we're getting positive feedback that they can do that," he said.

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