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High School Academies Focused on Career and Technical Education

Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City School Districts have listened and responded to the needs of the business community by creating career academies at area high schools.  Career academies are for students who want to attend post-secondary school or begin a career right after high school. By fulfilling the needs of our area industries through education, we are able to have a skilled workforce and ready talent pipline in place for any employer who chooses to locate and grow their business in Cabarrus County.

Kannapolis City Schools (KCS) educates 5,500 students in 9 schools. It features a highly acclaimed STEM Academy, partnerships with the NC Research Campus, an innovative online learning program (iKann) and teachers who are among the most effective in the region. KCS is one of only four NC school districts named to the College Board’s AP Honor Roll for outstanding performance in administering Advanced Placement college-level courses. KCS offers a welding program  where students have a hands-on opportunity to learn the trade and graduate with a certification and enter the work-force or continue on to secondary education.

Cabarrus County Schools (CCS) educates 32,000 students in 39 schools – making its system among the largest in North Carolina and one of the largest employers in Cabarrus County. CCS reported a graduation rate of 89.5% four-year graduation cohort rate – 3% higher than the state average. Cox Mill High School landed on the 2019 list of Top 25 Best High Schools in the Greater Charlotte Area. CCS also provides a one-of-a-kind STEM program. CCS' STEM pipeline is the only K­12 STEM program recognized in the state of North Carolina as a model for STEM instruction. CCS also focuses on Career Technical Education (CTE), which develops Cabarrus County's most valuable resource: its people.

Academies Include:

  • Aviation and Aerospace (Coming in 2020)
  • Energy and Sustainability (AOES)
  • Engineering and Automation (AOEA)
  • Health Sciences (AOHS)
  • Hospitality and Tourism (AOHT)
  • Information Technology (AOIT)
  • Public Safety Academy

Engineering Industry Need

STEM-related jobs, including engineering, grew three times faster than non-STEM jobs between 2000 and 2010. By 2018, 2.4 million STEM jobs were expected to go unfilled. In North Carolina in 2016, there were more than 14 STEM job postings published for every unemployed STEM worker. STEM occupations like engineering outearn non-STEM jobs by 12-30% across all education levels. In engineering alone, 140,000 new jobs will be added by 2026, with the majority going to civil, mechanical, and industrial engineering. Engineers play an integral role in maintaining, innovating, and upgrading the infrastructure of the United States, but the industry faces many challenges, including filling its talent pipeline with diverse and highly skilled workers. Minority groups and women are currently underrepresented in engineering [Source].

Academy of Engineering and Automation (AOEA), Jay M Robinson High School
The Academy of Engineering & Automation (AOEA) is a four-year career academy affiliated with the National Academy Foundation (NAF). AOEA provides a smaller learning community in which a cohort of students have classes together. Academy teachers share the cohort students and work together to integrate technology into their curricula as well as develop interdisciplinary projects.

Academy of Energy and Sustainability (a NAF Academy of Engineering), Mount Pleasant High School
The vision of AOES is to be the Charlotte region's most effective and efficient high school program which inspires and prepares students to pursue a wide range of career opportunities in energy and sustainability.

Hospitality and Tourism Industry Need

Hospitality and tourism is part of the service-providing industries, which are projected to account for most of the job growth in the economy between 2016 and 2026 [Source]. Cabarrus County is ranked 12th in travel impact among North Carolina’s 100 counties. [Source] Cabarrus County has a robust tourism industry and we are committed to providing a trained workforce.

Academy of Global Hospitality and Tourism, Hickory Ridge High School
The Academy of Global Hospitality & Tourism is designed for students who enjoy an exciting and hands on learning environment in the fields of marketing, and culinary arts. Project-based learning is used to help students understand main concepts in these fields as well as site visits, guest speakers, and internships. Students gain skills that will prepare them for a career in a hospitality, marketing, or the culinary arts field. 

Health Sciences Industry Need

Opportunities in healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. This is primarily due to an aging population with increasing needs for care. By 2030, nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older [Source].

Academy of Health Sciences, Northwest Cabarrus High School
The Academy of Health Sciences (AOHS) is a four-year career academy affiliated with the National Academy Foundation (NAF). AOHS curricula introduces students to health career possibilities though a series of career exploration courses. All courses use project-based learning techniques with an emphasis on strengthening literacy, project management, leadership, and team building skills while fostering creativity and innovation. The curricula is vetted by industry professionals to ensure content is current and relevant. NAF addresses the critical achievement gap in STEM fields by developing a pipeline of students prepared to pursue health-related degrees and professions in one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

Information Technology Industry Need

Opportunities in computer and information technology are projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. As the industry evolves, there will be a greater focus on filling positions in cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security. Because of this exponential growth, there is an urgent need to address the skills gap, as not enough college graduates are filling open jobs and traditional education isn’t able to keep up with this fast-paced industry. In addition, both ethnic and gender diversity are sorely lacking in the industry beginning at the college level [Source]. Careers vary from a technical writer, web developer, information technology director, chief technology officer and so much more with an average salary of $97,000.

Academy of Information Technology, Cox Mill High School
The Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) is a four-year career academy affiliated with the National Academy Foundation (NAF). It is a smaller learning community in which a cohort of students have core and IT classes together. Academy teachers share the cohort students and work together to integrate technology into their curricula as well as develop interdisciplinary projects.

Other Needs

Public Safety Academy, Concord High School
The PSA is a four-year career academy with a focus on 3 different pathways: EMT, Fire, and Law. The Academy will develop students toward a career in public safety through a series of courses that focus on academics, personal development, and work-based learning experiences which will prepare them to be college and career ready. All courses use hands-on learning techniques with an emphasis on strengthening leadership, team building, and applicable skills. The curriculum is vetted by industry professionals to ensure content is current and relevant and all PSA teachers are either current or retired professionals in their respective field of public safety. Students are also encouraged to showcase the skills learned in the academy in various competitive events, such as Skills USA. PSA is a pipeline into the Law, Fire and Emergency Services Training offered at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Coming in 2020
Academy of Aviation and Aerospace,
West Cabarrus High School


Higher Education

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has spent more than 50 years serving Rowan and Cabarrus counties, ultimately educating nearly 650,000 individuals. Over time, the College has progressively evolved in response to the community’s workforce and economic development needs, annually serving more than 20,000 individuals on seven campuses and sites across two counties. corporate and continuing education team offers training based on industry requests, workforce development and economic development. Click here to check out a list of ways RCCC can help your business with customized training.

The North Carolina Manufacturing Institute initiative was conceived in the summer of 2014 during meetings with leaders from Rowan and Cabarrus counties from both chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, the Centralina Workforce Development Board and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. The North Carolina Manufacturing Institute is a response to employers’ need for solving talent recruitment issues in order to grow and remain competitive. This initiative builds a clear and achievable pathway for people to acquire those skills in order to access good jobs in local communities.

UNC Charlotte is an urban research institution located 3 miles outside of Cabarrus County that educates over 27,000 students. UNC Charlotte has seven professional colleges that offer a total of more than 170 undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of academic disciplines.

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