The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments (UCPCOG) is working with education and technology partners to develop innovative ways to introduce area youth to career pathways available within the five county region.  The current initiative, named the Regional Simulation Partnership (RSP), is intended to use virtual game simulations that match up with local area industries or occupations, and use a designed career exploration format to generate youth interest in jobs that don’t require a four year college education.

“Several game simulations are designed well enough to create a virtual work environment for an industry or occupation.  In addition, they allow the youth to perform simulated tasks that a typical worker may encounter while being employed in one of the occupations” said UCPCOG Executive Director Robert Hiett.

Giants Software is a game development company that designed Farming Simulator series.  Giants Software is based out of Switzerland and it publishes Farming Simulator 19 internationally. The company has sold over 20 million copies of the popular game franchise, and they recently launched an official Farming Simulator 19 E-Sport League in Europe.

 “We are very happy to become part of this interesting and promising project. Video Games fascinate people around the world. The Farming Simulator franchise has become an international brand and sold over 20 million copies in over 165 countries. That is the evidence that people are interested in this sector.

As the Farming Simulator displays an authentic gameplay around farming, it is the ideal platform to introduce this exciting and growing sector to the public.


Farming Simulator 19 – Virtual Town & Farmland Usage

Many players love to work with the big, authentic and licensed machines we offer. Furthermore, there are always requests from the community for more realism and details in the gameplay. At this point a project like this makes sense because it connects the gameplay with real life experience and educational possibilities. At the end all parties will profit from this project and again we are glad to be part of it”, said Thomas Frey Vice President Giants Software.

 Farming Simulator 19 is designed to allow someone to play the role of a small business owner with a farm, or grow their small farm into a large-scale agribusiness over time.  Players must manage cash flow, leases and loans, contracts, hiring workers, acquire land, and build out an equipment inventory to manage their farming empire.


Farming Simulator 19 uses tractor and machine models based on real equipment made by recognizable name brands such as John Deere, Case II, and others.  The machinery will help players harvest and plow fields, fertilize and maintain lands, and even cut and stack timber to deliver to the virtual marketplace.

“We are very pleased to be able to partner with a game development studio because they can help us develop resources that enhance the student learning experience.  An example would be where they provide saved game resources that allow instructors to focus on specific agricultural scenarios that can be used to increase student knowledge about the industry or certain types of operational conditions that may be encountered in a farming environment, said Hiett.

This type of relationship may be a good national example to show game developers that their products have an education and workforce element, and encourage more of them to open a dialogue with workforce boards or others involved with helping youth explore careers”, said Turning Point Workforce Development Board Director Michael Williams.

The UCPCOG and the Turning Point Workforce Development Board (TPWDB) are coordinating the overall effort to explore “Game Based Career Pathways” in the five county region, and the partnership has grown to include several other types of organizations as well as another council of governments.  They have created a resource website, www.ncsimulationstation.com, to serve as a central area to host information about the gaming concept, and to use it to crowdsource resources for others who may wish to replicate the model.

“There are three central pathways to implement the game based career pathway model.  The first method is to work with local school districts to see if they are willing to incorporate gaming concepts into their career and technical education (CTE) instruction.  We are working with Wilson and Northampton County Schools at the present time to develop options there.

The second option is to utilize workforce development funds through its out of school youth program, and to coordinate with eligible training providers who can incorporate the games into their training models.  This can translate into a youth going directly into post secondary education to earn an industry credential for employment.

The third option is for community organizations to use the roadmap created at the NC Simulation Station website to provide a career exploration experience to youth in the local community” said Hiett.


The UCPCOG and the TPWDB will need to work with a variety of partners over time to fully develop the game based career pathway concept, and seek additional funding or sponsorships as opportunities develop with community organizations.

“We are able to build and implement some things now, but the largest impact will come as we develop public-private partnerships that highlight local career pathways and help our area employers find skilled workers”, said Williams.

A recent webinar by Steam Universe, Steam Week 2019, featured speakers that discussed high school e-sports and gaming concepts being introduced into the classroom.  Presenters highlighted data that indicated a GPA increase for schools that developed local e-sports or gaming concept programs.

“Games help youth learn, develop critical thinking skills, teamwork, coordination, and many other things relevant to the workforce today.  It makes sense to incorporate it into our economic development strategy, and make it part of our workforce development system”, said Hiett.

The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments is a regional planning and development organization for Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson counties and 41 municipal governments in the five-county region. The council administers several federal and state programs within its region. Its major program areas involve aging services, business and economic development, community planning programs and workforce development programs and services.

Contact Information:

Robert Hiett, Executive Director


(252) 234-5950

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