HCC institute to focus on job training

March 17, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

A new initiative to be launched at Hagerstown Community College in July will give at-risk adults the skills and support they need to secure entry-level professional employment, HCC officials said recently.

The Job Training Institute will target teen and single parents, dislocated workers and unemployed and underemployed individuals for enrollment in credit-bearing programs that will train students for jobs such as certified nursing assistant, truck driver, administrative assistant, child-care assistant and customer service specialist, JTI Coordinator Lisa Mowen said.

Because college credits will be attached to the vocational programs, students who before might not have been able to afford such training will now be eligible for federal financial aid, Dean of Instruction Julian "Joe" Sidlowski said.


"If they're right for the program, we're going to find dollars for them," said HCC President Guy Altieri, who added that grant money can also help pay for child-care services available on the college's campus.

Altieri expects to enroll about 100 students by this fall - and at least double that number by next year, he said.

Students will work closely with HCC advisers and, in some instances, case managers from local social services agencies, to choose programs that best fit their needs, and develop long-term educational plans that build upon their short-term job training, Mowen said.

"Going into it, students will have a lot of information and direction," she said.

Students' academic progress will be carefully tracked, and they will get help with such life skills as time management and budgeting, to help ensure their success, Mowen said.

"We're going to take some extra steps with these students to make sure they're comfortable and successful, ultimately," Altieri said.

He said the HCC Foundation has made funds available to help JTI students pay for bus passes and such emergency transportation expenses as new car batteries if needed to make sure they can attend classes.

"That battery could make the difference between that student becoming a nursing assistant or staying on welfare," Altieri said. "We don't want those barriers to keep people from being successful."

To ensure that JTI participants learn skills needed to help them land local jobs, institute organizers are surveying area employers to gauge their workforce needs. And the institute's program offerings will be tweaked when necessary to stay current with local employment needs, Altieri said.

"We want to make sure we're in tune with the local marketplace," he said.

Current full-time and part-time college faculty members will teach the classes, but at least one new financial aid officer and academic adviser will likely need to be hired to meet the institute's staffing needs, Dean of Students Carl Galligan said.

Credits earned toward certificates of completion in the job training programs will roll over into related degree programs if students choose to continue their education at HCC - perhaps with financial help from employers - after securing stable employment, Mowen said.

"We think the county wins with this. The students will win with this. And it fits with our mission" at HCC, Altieri said. "We think we can have a big impact on the local economy."

College officials will unveil Job Training Institute plans at a March 26 reception for local service providers.

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