North Carolina's unemployment rate is on the rise.
New numbers show the rate rose from 9.6 percent in July to 9.7 percent in August.
But a new, free training program from Central Piedmont Community College designed for unemployed workers may offer some hope.
The North Carolina Back to Work program, funded by a state grant, awarded CPCC $414,000 to provide training for people who have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more, or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits.
Jeff Dudas, CEO of Spiroflow Systems in Monroe, said he'll need to hire welders as he expands over the next year.
His company makes machinery for transporting materials, and people skilled in welding and advanced manufacturing are key, but Dudas said they are difficult to find.
"There are a lot of people out there looking for jobs, but they don't have the skills to come into the jobs that we need them for," he said.
He was pleased to hear about the Back to Work program at CPCC. He said programs like this one help small businesses like his especially, since larger manufacturers can afford to train their workers on-site.
"When we try and hire somebody here, we need them to be productive when they come in, day one," he said.
CPCC is offering training and classes in areas where the college said there is the most demand: computers; information technology; automotives (forklift safety and NC DMV auto safety/OBD emissions); HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning); advanced manufacturing; flexography (printing); construction; and welding.
"There is a misconception that there are no jobs," CPCC spokesperson Jeff Lowrance said. "There are jobs, but they require specialized skills"
Lowrance said CPCC will also help with resume writing and job placement by providing career experts who can advise students on how to apply for jobs, market their skills and follow up on leads.
At the N.C. Employment Security Commission, Eyewitness News showed the flier to Lloyd Coleman, who's been looking for a job for two years.
"This is my first time looking at it," he said. "I actually think it's a good idea."
Lowrance said he expects most classes to start in January and that they will be held across CPCC's six campuses. The next information session is Monday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Hall Professional Development Building at 1112 Charlottetown Avenue at CPCC's Central campus.
CPCC will also hold an informational session at the Levine Campus on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. at 2800 Campus Ridge Road in Matthews.