WEST ABE has worked with representatives from higher education and the workforce center over the past several years to address the needs and concerns of local industry and to develop programs that would provide career laddering, leading students to a short term certificate and, at minimum, entry-level employment in an in-demand industry which in this area is health care and manufacturing.
WEST has been active in promoting transitions classes however the main challenge is to partner with a college, university or trade school. WEST has done so in the past however there are no schools in our area so that is our main challenge. Anoka Technical is the closest at 22 miles, or a 30 minute drive, followed by Hennepin Tech (26 miles) and St. Cloud Tech (32 miles away). We have reached out and formed partnerships, but transportation to and from the classes is a challenge for student participation. Partnering with local business and working with the workforce center and incumbent workers seems to work better with our college-challenged consortium.
Post-secondary Preparation – J & B Wholesale
WEST is partnering with J & B Wholesale in St. Michael, MN to serve their incumbent workforce training needs. J & B Wholesale is proactive in offering their employees access to paid training offered by colleges, online and on-site. WEST holds regular English Language Learning classes twice a week and regularly meets with Assembly Line Leaders and HR advocate to tailor lessons to their industry needs. Due to WEST being on site, last year alone, 3 students taking our classes were promoted in their jobs due to a heightened ability to communicate. The onsite instructors will often aid other trainings that J & B holds to help the English learners grasp vocabulary and conversation and more complex terms related to earning a certificate in food safety and health and safety but also promotes soft-skills training such as time management, career development, the culture of work and payroll. Students are encouraged to attend the nearby St. Michael ESL and ABE classrooms to augment their learning. This year new computers will be integrated to introduce students to distance learning and a new GED program will be introduced.
This is the only current class that WEST has that has specific career-focused programming. However in the past we have held many classes in conjunction with both Anoka-Ramsey college and St. Cloud Technical and Community College(SCTCC) and local businesses. Listed are some examples.
Industry Recognized Credential Training – WEST partnered with Anoka Technical College (ATC) on a Bridge to Integrated Course where the “gatekeeper” course was “Introduction to Computers.” Representatives from various agencies housed in the workforce center and Anoka-Ramsey College as well as ABE worked together for this entry level training, integrating adult literacy instruction with post-secondary instruction, leading to college credit. This was funded through a FastTrack Grant. 11 students enrolled with the intent to continue at Anoka in the ATC computer course in the fall. 11 students @ $173/credit for COMP1000 class = $5,709 plus $125 each per books = $1,375. Students who faced barriers to participation such as transportation or child care issues, were referred to the Title 1 (Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth) or Title IV (Vocational Rehabilitation) partners or other appropriate local service providers to determine eligibility for programming to help them. Students were assessed by ABE to determine eligibility and functioning at a level commensurate with what was needed to be successful in class. Students were also encouraged to enroll in ABE core instruction to build skills and remain engaged in preparation for subsequent trainings. Administrative Assistant Certificate
Industry Recognized Credential Training – Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) this introduced students to present-day manufacturing programming methods and related machining concepts directly related to programming activities. The goals of this course were; learning Featurecam, a computer –aided manufacturing software, and associated manual programming and machining variables that are related to manufacturing processes. WEST partnered with St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC) for this venture. This was worth 3 college credits and 9/13 students completed and passed the class. Three students got immediate jobs and one declined to return.
Other programs have been run in the past such as the Pre-Apprenticeship Program for Manufacturing that featured co-teaching with both ABE and an accredited Manufacturing college teacher and in conjunction with local manufacturing businesses. After training was completed the students shadowed workers sponsored by local manufacturing businesses.
WEST has current talks with another Manufacturing business in Plymouth to set up onsite ABE and ESL classes for incumbent workers. These talks will happen June 6th, 2019.