ECTC to restructure workforce training program

PATE

In a move to help local companies, Elizabeth­town Community and Technical College is looking to revamp Workforce Solutions, its external training division.

The college is working with the Central Kentucky Community Foundation on the project. ECTC President Juston Pate’s vision is a department that offers customizable training options with mobile units to deliver that training on site. A robust pool of instructors with industry experience would teach the training sessions as part of that vision.

“We’re going to do something significant,” Pate said.

Revamping Workforce Solutions is expected to help local companies save money on training and reduce turnover. Pate said noncredit training is a big part of the college’s mission, but it is not presently heavily engaged in that area. Key training needs are safety and leadership development.

This restructuring will be one of the college’s key initiatives this year, but Pate expects it will take five years to “get where we need to be.”

The effort includes a website and additional staff and instructors to do the training. Pate estimates it will cost about $500,000.

“That was not put into the budget,” he said.

Rick Games, president of the Eliza­­beth­town-Hardin County Industrial Foundation, said the college’s proactive focus industry training is important for area companies.

The college is part of the foundation’s training consortium. Games said the mobile training unit will be “a big hit.”

“It’s really exciting,” he said.

CKCF president Davette Swiney said it’s important to ensure the community has training options available near them. Local companies rely on skills and this training initiative will help local employees acquire and hone the skills they need to be successful, she said.

Swiney said the backbone of the community is employment and the work of the foundation and college will help address a “huge, critical need in the workforce.”

“This is a great step toward big improvements in that area,” she said.

The focus on Work­force Solutions, which the college is renaming Business and Industry Services, came out of the college’s renewed strategic partnership with the community foundation. The first phase of that partnership was a regional education needs assessment.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done any needs assessment in the noncredit side of what the college does,” Pate said. “As a community foundation and a comprehensive community college, this is part of what we need to be looking at.”

They hired an external consultant to review the training division. The consultant interviewed 30 local companies about their training needs over a two-week period and identified 300 training possibilities, Pate said.

“We found that there’s a lot we could be doing if we restructured that unit of the college to meet those needs,” Pate said.

Pate said one of the goals of the overhaul is to help save local companies money on training because they won’t have to send employees outside the area.

ECTC is not looking to make money on this endeavor, Pate said.

“It’s a break-even proposition,” he said.

The first step is building a pool of adjunct instructors who have industry experiences to deliver the trainings. Pate said they were working on a hiring process that made sense for those instructors. Instructors will have to meet competency-based requirements rather than academic requirements.

Right now, Pate said the college is a month away from having necessary staff in place to start hiring those instructors. He hopes to have the first mobile unit order in the next month.

Pate said those who have in interest in becoming an instructor should contact Mike Hazzard at mikew.hazzard@kctcs.edu.

Swiney said workforce training is at the heart of the foundation’s mission.

“We want to enhance our community and education is the core of it which drives our workforce,” she said. “So often, people get hung up on education and thinking the traditional academic four-year degree. But education is all about lifelong learning and whatever pathway, whatever track that needs to be for someone.”

Pate said restructuring of Workforce Solutions is another way the college and foundation are working to support companies and help grow the region.

“This is going to do good,” Pate said. “It’s going to be important.”

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kknott@thenewsenterprise.com.

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