By Jessica Williams
Posted May 24, 2019
Jim Babson is working to reduce college debt and increase salaries for North Carolina residents.
More than a year ago, Babson founded US Careers Online, a website dedicated to exposing students — and adults looking for a career change — to industries searching for trained workers and the community colleges offering that training.
It currently features 21 videos on careers like nursing and tourism, including a four-and-a-half minute mini-documentary focusing on Alamance Community College’s Information Technology program.
“The IT job market, within the next five years, is expected to skyrocket at least five times in terms of the number of jobs that are going to be available for IT students,” Renard Spratling, IT department head for ACC, says in the video.
Martin Patchell, an ACC graduate, says he was offered a job with Insight Global in Raleigh before he’d even received his diploma.
“If people are more in tune about what’s available and what they want to do, they can get into the workforce much quicker,” Babson said during a phone interview Thursday, May 23.
But the site doesn’t only aid students.
The number of U.S. job openings rose to 7.5 million in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job openings in the construction industry increased by 73,000, while job openings in the federal government decreased by 15,000.
Across the country, skilled trades are experiencing a shortage of workers with the training needed to replace aging boomers. It’s called the “skills gap,” and North Carolina’s 58 community colleges are ready to bridge it.
Babson’s mission is to spread the word about these programs and then convince students it doesn’t always take a four-year degree and a mountain of debt to have a high-paying, stable career.
With brochures and booklets out of the question, he settled on short, informational videos to get this message across. Department heads, students and instructors do the talking, with b-roll of the college and classroom setting layered in.
It takes about 30 days to film and edit each video. Many are sponsored by companies like Revlon, Sherwin Williams and American Standard, but some are paid for by the college itself.
The site has been shared with career counselors across North Carolina with topics like cosmetology, criminal justice, surveying, civil engineering and commercial painting still to come.
Babson thinks of the site as a digital career fair.
“The key two words here are: career awareness. That’s what it’s all about,” Babson said.
Reporter Jessica Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 336-506-3046. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicawtn.