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State Hopes To Give Low-Income Workers More Tech Skills

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EDGECOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — Angela Powell loves her job. She works for a center that counsels and mentors kids. But just three years ago, Powell didn't know how to use a computer. Powell was laid off from her manufacturing job 2003, when her position went overseas.

"It was hard at the time, because I couldn't pay some of my bills," said Powell.

Her husband lost his job around the same time, and the mother of four knew she needed to do something big.

"Because I didn't have a lot of experience and computer skills and anything like that, there really wasn't any jobs," said Powell.

That's when she started taking classes at Edgecombe Community College and learned to use a computer. Now she works nearly full time, while going to school to get her degree in early-childhood development.

A new report from NC Budget and Tax Center says there aren't enough success stories like that. The report found that 1/3 of all working families in North Carolina live on an income of $37,000 a year -- more than any other state.

Now work's underway to make changes to help low-income families connect with the growth and prosperity in North Carolina.

"A lot of the new companies coming to the area require people to have technical skills, and they don't have it," said Terry Anderson with the Nash-Edgecombe Employment Security Commission.

The report highlights the importance of making community colleges more affordable and accessible; so more people can qualify for new higher-paying jobs.

"You really need it these days," said Powell.

The studies also showed that 1/3 of low-income families in North Carolina have at least one parent who never finished high school or a GED program. That is the eighth worst proportion in the Nation.


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