‘Exciting’ times eyed for CSCC programming

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Staff Writer
Posted 8/16/17

Leaders of Cleveland State Community College’s workforce development efforts shared some highlights with the Cleveland Kiwanis Club in a recent noonday gathering.

The speakers were Scott …

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‘Exciting’ times eyed for CSCC programming

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Leaders of Cleveland State Community College’s workforce development efforts shared some highlights with the Cleveland Kiwanis Club in a recent noonday gathering.

The speakers were Scott Packett, director of workforce development, and Dr. Patty Weaver, assistant vice president of workforce and economic development. Both recently started in their new positions, due to the recent retirement of the previous director.

Both stressed this is an “exciting” time for Cleveland State, because it is continuing to add more offerings to help area residents develop their skills and find jobs. The college was recently granted the contract to continually house the local American Job Center. This joins the college’s OneSource Workforce Readiness Center and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center on campus.

“It’s a partnership where visitors will have kind of a one-stop shop,” Weaver said.

Packett, who was previously workforce and grant coordinator for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Athens, said having such offerings is important for the entire region.

He said he is hearing similar things from employers throughout the region: They need more skilled workers.

This area currently has an unemployment rate close to 3 percent. This means fewer people are seeking employment and are ready to fill jobs which require highly-skilled workers.

“That low unemployment rate is an awesome thing, but when industries are growing we have to ask, ‘Where will we get the people?’” Packett said.

The answer to that question, he noted, is a relatively simple one. Institutions like Cleveland State can help people discover career opportunities and train them in the skills they need.

Packett said the OneSource Workforce Readiness Center regularly works with companies to help them find workers, by conducting training and assessments. The non-credit training opportunities include everything from instruction on manufacturing machinery to welding instruction.

While this will continue, he said the center will soon make teaching would-be workers technical job skills more of a focus.

“We’re hoping to really ramp up our technical side of things,” Packett said.

He added the center will continue to cultivate its partnership with local nonprofit organization The Refuge, which provides training through its Career Connection program.

Adults who are unemployed or under-employed can sign up for Career Connection. They spend time working on skills like resume writing and interviewing at The Refuge before pursuing training at Cleveland State.

The college offers instruction in mechatronics, welding and customer service “at cost,” Packett said. Then, The Refuge and its donors help defray the costs for participants.

So far, 60 individuals have completed training at Cleveland State through The Refuge, and about 50 of those 60 have found new jobs. Packett said this program is “really great” for the community and urged the Kiwanians to consider donating money for scholarships.

Weaver then turned their attention to Cleveland State’s degree and certificate offerings related to advanced technologies. The programs have recently been revamped to help make sure students are learning what they need to know in order to pursue successful careers.

She also spoke about Cleveland State’s new Mechatronics Institute, program which will funnel recent high school graduates toward possible careers. Thanks to partnerships with area manufacturers, students will work in area manufacturing facilities while pursuing their college degrees.

Companies like Denso, an automotive parts manufacturer, and McKee Foods, makers of the Little Debbie snack line, have already agreed to partner on this. Weaver said such partnerships will help ensure more students are trained for skilled jobs.

“We are really excited about that,” Weaver concluded.

In addition to hearing the presentation, the Kiwanians elected their new club leaders for the coming year.

The new president of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club is Mike Stoess. The president-elect is Ramon Torres, and the vice president is Jake Duos. The secretary is Doug Greene. This year’s treasurer will be Traci Hamilton.

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email: christy.armstrong @clevelandbanner.com

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