The teaching of workplace Spanish and a shift to individual training are some of the trends in workforce training and Holmes Community College (HCC) is on the cutting edge with their programs at four locations. In addition to the main campus in Goodman, HCC provides training for workers in business and industry in Ridgeland, Grenada and Kosciusko.
Adrienne Wamble, the director of workforce and community development, says the campuses and centers trained 15,204 people in various categories for 2004-2005. “Our role for the last few years has been based on what business and industry needs. That was our focus. It is now evolving into some type of model for individuals as we focus more on them and preparing them for employment.”
This shift is partly in response to the Mississippi Comprehensive Workforce Training and Consolidation Act of 2004. HCC now has full-time educational coordinators in five WIN Job Centers in the school’s district to inform clients about furthering their education through regular career-technical programs, short-term training or GED preparation.
“This legislation calls for a streamlined approach across the state, whether individual or company,” she said. “The whole intention is so Mississippi can beef up workforce training to ensure that no one falls through the cracks. In this way, it will better serve people.”
In response to requests for workplace Spanish, HCC taught a pilot class at the satellite center in Kosciusko and will now offer it at the other campuses. “People are requesting their employees learn some Spanish to get by,” she said.
“Policemen, healthcare, emergency, construction and landscaping workers are the big ones. We’re going to do a better job of marketing this training to get the word out.”
Not surprisingly, computer classes keep evolving and are taught at all the training sites. Sometimes computer training is specialized for a specific company or need and may require outside instructors. That’s the case with the state’s new voting machines as HCC works with the Secretary of State’s Office and the vendor to offer this training.
The four sites also offer different training in response to the needs of the area. Wamble says the college operates independently because HCC’s territory of nine counties is large. Industrial maintenance is big at the flagship centers in Ridgeland and Goodman where many employees have been trained for Nissan’s Canton plant.
“That training is ongoing in both places,” Wamble said. “We want to have what’s needed and keep the training appropriate to business and industry. These two campuses are trend setters for us.”
Betty Douglas, a workforce development coordinator at the Ridgeland campus, says the urgency of the automotive industry has been the biggest change she’s seen in workforce development.
“The turnaround time is shorter than it used to be. Now we sometimes do it in days and operate literally on a week by week basis,” she said. “We don’t even put out a semester schedule anymore. That’s part of being responsive to community needs.”
Wamble says HCC has been successful at all sites in pre-employment training for specific companies who are looking for employees. “We help develop skills with analysis from the company to find out what they’re looking for in new employees,” she said. “The companies put out advertising for jobs or use the WIN Centers. It’s a sweet thing.”
With students’ permission, HCC gives the list of trainees to the company and they can hire from the list. These programs usually last a few weeks and students are not guaranteed jobs.
The HCC workforce team also writes projects entirely for companies’ needs and only that company’s employees attend the training. Wamble cited the example of a program for Heatcraft in Grenada and described it as a quality company that has won awards.
In other responses to training needs, the Ridgeland campus recently became certified to teach human resources management and is adding short online courses called Education to Go and Gatlin Education.
“This training is reasonable and the time is less so we’re looking forward to a big response,” Betty Douglas said. “It will help those who are not real computer literate.”
She said the Ridgeland faculty and staff are also looking forward to occupying the new McGowan Workforce Training Center named for long-time board member, Pat McGowan. Hopefully, the move will take place by June 1.
Wamble said residents of HCC’s region are also encouraged to attend the school’s academic programs. Many are one- and two-year programs. A very big one is practical nursing which follows one calendar year. It is offered in Ridgeland, Goodman and Grenada.
“There is a big demand for it and it is definitely full,” she said. “We must turn people away and have to have a screening process for students.”
She added that a variety of state, federal and private funds are used to provide these cost-effective, efficient classes for individuals and businesses throughout the district.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.