Enhance Your Job Skills For The 21st Century

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Gila Community College is beginning to roll out a new series of classes -- called the Workforce Readiness Academy -- designed to help people of all ages enhance their skills to better meet the needs of the 21st century workplace.

It has already been started in southern Gila County and, with a little luck, perseverance and funding, could be starting at the Payson campus as early as this fall.

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Don Crowley

I'm very excited about the prospect of this program, because it will help workers and prospective workers hone the necessary skills to get them better positioned for today's jobs. It should also garner support from northern Gila County employers who need people with a clear understanding of what is expected in the workplace.

Nowhere were these needs demonstrated more clearly than in the Northern Gila County Higher Education Needs Assessment, completed earlier this year under the APS-sponsored Focused Future II program.

My compliments also go to the administration of Eastern Arizona College for bringing this program to Gila County, and to Dr. Stephen Cullen, dean at the Gila Pueblo campus of GCC, for designing a proposed curriculum geared specifically to perceived needs of the Northern Gila County work force.

The curriculum of the Workforce Readiness Academy, which is open to people of all ages, is based on two "blocks," each totaling 180-classroom hours spread over a semester. The first 180-hour program is described as "Education on Basic Life-Skills and Employment Skills." At the conclusion of this program, a student will receive a Certificate of Progress.

The second 180-hour phase covers "Career and Occupation-Specific Areas" and leads to a Certificate of Successful Completion, which should be a helpful recommendation when presented to potential employers.

In addition, some of the courses will provide credit hours that can go toward a Certificate of Proficiency or toward requirements for an associate degree. Successful attainment of an associate degree at Gila Community College campuses served by EAC is an acknowledged gateway to Arizona's universities.

Those of you interested in this program would be well-advised to contact the Payson campus soon by calling (928) 468-8039, to express your interest and to indicate what times would work best for you.

Obviously, people with full or part-time jobs may be focused on evenings, and people with childcare issues may have special needs, as well. Students at the high school, particularly seniors, may have free time following the noon break.

A minimum of 15 people are necessary to make the individual blocks of the Workforce Readiness Academy viable and there are upper limits to class size as well.

Employers interested in expressing support for this program and learning further specifics may wish to speak directly to Dean Cullen, who can frequently be reached at the Payson campus.

A basic module of the first block concerns "self-management" and commences with a personal assessment, helping the students probe their own values and goals and how best to work and communicate with others.

A second module, described as "Survival Skills," involves goal setting, time management, stress management and other essentials that we can all use.

Additional modules in this block get into "Job Seeking Strategies," basic computer skills, physical conditioning and, as an elective, a module on childcare.

The second and final block, aimed at delineating "Career Pathways," gets into these areas:

  • Sales and Customer Service
  • Additional computer skills, including word processing, spreadsheets, database management, utilizing the Internet, desktop publishing and preparing presentations.
  • Computer keyboarding for Business I and introductions to preparation of reports, letters, memos, tables and employment documents.

A final segment of this block focuses on specific business areas, including "Introduction to Small Business Management," "Allied Health and Medical Careers," "Office Administration and Technology" and "Introduction to Hospitality and Restaurant Management." The latter a very important focus for a tourism-oriented economy like Payson's.

Finally, this program can be allied with regular credit courses in various career tracks and can be blended with supervised on-the-job training opportunities through a companion program of Cooperative Education courses.

In summary, as the skills and education needed to succeed in today's job market rise ever-higher, this new Workforce Readiness curriculum should be an excellent offering for those starting careers or re-tooling their capabilities, and I hope many people in this area will want to use this program to their advantage.

If you agree, let us know.

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