NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Empty classrooms continue to be a big concern for local educators and lawmakers.

It’s something Gov. Roy Cooper also addressed during Monday night’s State of the State Address. Helping fill that void is the goal of an upcoming job fair in Craven County, not only to help with school-age kids but the tiniest of learners.

“It’s not just the public school, you know school age teachers leaving the field,” said Maria Eid, Early Childhood faculty at Craven Community College. “But it’s our age group as well, our childcares are really hurting and need those positions filled.”

On March 18, Craven Community College’s Early Childhood Education Program is opening its doors for those interested to speak directly with potential employers. Local lawmakers emphasized how important education is.

“Workforce development starts from the cradle to career,” said NC Rep. Gloristine Brown, a Democrat who represents District 8.

“Every part of our educational system is struggling with workforce, and we hear workforce all across the industries. We need to make sure that every child has a well-trained good teacher,” said NC Rep. Dr. Tim Reeder, a Republican who represents District 9.

Reeder said 50% of North Carolina’s children can’t read or do math at a fourth-grade level. Craven Community College officials said the conference will educate attendees on how to get a degree in education, tying into the initiative the governor is really pushing for with quality care.

“I think Gov. Cooper is very aware of and he tries to address that there are major disparities in the pay and the benefits that early childhood workers receive,” said Kelly Shaw, Quality Enhancement Professional Development coordinator at Craven Smart Start.

“I think the pandemic really highlighted that the state of our economy would not be what it is if our workers could not go out in the field, and they can’t do that without childcare for those that have children.”:

For more information on the education job fair, visit Craven CC’s early childhood education program to host early childhood educator job fair and smart start conference.

The deadline to register is Thursday.