Toyota tags funds for education to aid workforce

LIBERTY – Toyota wants to help mold the workforce for the new plant at the Guilford-Randolph megasite.

In what company officials describe as an effort to boost workforce readiness and exposure, donations totaling $1 million will be used to expand education opportunities.

The effort comes to boost what’s called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics).

Communities in Schools of Randolph County and North Carolina A&T University will each receive $500,000 to help strengthen STEAM education programs that support career readiness.

This could be a big deal in Randolph County.

Grant funds will be used to support students, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through a variety of programs, including the launch of Jobs for America’s Graduates, students will receive a range of services, including but not limited to weekend meals, academic tutoring, financial literacy, and mentoring.

“It is difficult to adequately put into words the magnitude of this gift to Communities in Schools of Randolph County,” said Paula Owens, CiSRC executive director. “This gift will enable us to serve more youth in our community with wrap-around services in partnership with our local school systems and equip us to launch a new program, Jobs For North Carolina Graduates, providing specialized instruction and experiences to support increased graduation rates and employability for our students.”

From the Toyota standpoint, the mission is to have potential employees ready.

“We have 2,100 jobs to fill in North Carolina, so better preparing our next generation workforce is critical,” said Sean Suggs, Toyota Battery Manufacturing-North Carolina president. “Toyota is committed to providing resources, time, and knowledge to help build stronger communities in which we operate. We’re grateful for our education partners that share the same passion.”

For N.C. A&T, the start-up grant will establish the Toyota STEAM Lab in the College of Education on the campus in Greensboro. According to a release, the lab will be designed for K-12 learners and provide NC A&T Elementary and Secondary Education majors space to practice teaching with devices and technologies designed for K-12 student use.

It will also provide collaborative mentorship opportunities and projects between NC A&T students from all majors, Aggie Academy elementary-aged students, and the high school students located on campus.

“We are grateful that our friends at Toyota understand that the key to meeting the challenges of the STEAM workforce of the future is to invest in rich STEAM educational opportunities for students today,” said N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin, Sr. said. “… It is also a further illustration of what a great corporate citizen Toyota has become in the state of North Carolina. We deeply appreciate their leadership.”

Based on information from Toyota, the company recently announced an additional investment of $2.5 billion in its newest North American facility, resulting in the creation of 350 new jobs. This brings the Liberty facility’s total investment to $3.8 billion, creating 2,100 direct jobs.

By Bob Sutton