Wake Tech's Ladder Works

Wake Technical Community College — Goal 2 Initiative Wake Tech's Ladder Works

Wake Tech’s service area (which includes Raleigh, Wake County, and the Research Triangle) is a talent magnet. But talent magnets do not necessarily serve the needs of locals in need of economic mobility. Through Wake Tech's Ladder Works initiative, the college is taking strategic action to strengthen its role as a talent ladder, reaching out to the under-resourced and under-employed, connecting numerous options for training and higher education, and assembling a seamless ladder from high school to a livable wage. Wake Tech serves almost 70,000 individuals now in non-credit and credit programs, but it looks to significantly improve equitable access and equitable outcomes—increasing enrollment by students in low economic health index zones by 5%, increasing non-credit to credit transition by 10%, and increasing completion of credentials by 6%.

If you grow up poor in the Wake County region, the chances of remaining poor throughout your life are higher than many other areas. Wake Tech’s Ladder Works initiative will help change that narrative by focusing on every rung of the career ladder – from entry-level foothold training to degrees and certifications that lead to career advancement.

Scott Ralls, Wake Technical Community College

Initiative Differentiators

Ladder Works integrates existing siloed programs and innovative new targeted programs into a unified approach that puts economic mobility first by working back from labor market success. Ladder Works leverages home-grown and labor market partner data tools to provide direct personalized services and resources to meet individual needs. Ladder Works forges strategic transfer and employment partnerships to maximize education and career success. The approach emphasizes not just the development of programs but the integration of program "rungs" on the career ladder. Given that "laddering" for mobility is not limited to programs available through Wake Tech, Ladder Works emphasizes the development and integration of the strategic K12, university, and employment partnerships that extend the ladders beyond Wake Tech.

Key Interventions and Milestones

The initiative will oversee construction of Wake Tech's Eastern Wake 4.0 Campus with a focus on technology-forward education and workforce development programs, including smart manufacturing, a tower technician training site, biopharmaceutical labs, a public safety driving track, a Simulation Center for first responders, an Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pavilion, a fire rescue center with a fire tower and dive pond, and university partners co-location facilities. Ladder Works is at the core of Wake Tech's Reach 'n Rally 5-Year Strategic Plan and Annual Implementation Plan, which outlines overall and annual metrics and milestones.

Expected Impact

The initiative will serve hundreds of students through its various programs. Foothold Training (WakeWorks Propel) expects to serve 750 students served by June 30, 2022. The Aligned Dual Enrollment (Early Colleges/Career and College Promise/Pre-apprenticeship) program will increase the percentage and diversity of high school students participating in Career and College Promise programs to the North Carolina urban average in accordance with MyFutureNC recommendations by 2025. The Stackable Degrees component (Code Green Super CIP) aims to increase in credentials earned by 5% before 2025, and Strategic Workforce Transfer is expected to see a 9% increase in Wake Tech transfers who earn a bachelor’s degree within 4 years of transfer.