WNCC offers new programs
What Western Nevada Community College has to offer employers and potential employees was the topic at the Douglas WNCC Advisory Committee meeting Wednesday.
First on the agenda was Bus Scharmann, Douglas dean, who explained the new certificates of completion program being piloted at the Douglas campus in August.
Called “The First Step,” Scharmann said the certificate program is designed to get students certified quickly for certain job skills. Students can work as well as attend classes, and within two or three semesters they will be able to earn a certificate that can be shown to an employer.
“The grades can be typed on the back, and the employer can even see what the student earned,” Scharmann said.
Brochures for the new program will be available July 1 at various places in the community, including the Douglas center office, located in Mountain View Professional building in Gardnerville on Highway 395 or call 782-2413.
Scharmann said the fall class schedule also should be ready July 1. Scheduled classes have increased about 12 percent, showing that more daytime classes will begin to be offered here because of the new campus.
Classes are slated to begin Aug. 27.
Brochures for the certificate of completion program plus class schedules will be available at the open house, which will be held from 11 a.m. until early evening Aug. 21. The public is invited.
WNCC’s Mike Hill, director of school-to-work, told WNCC advisory committee members how students in high school can earn college credit in several programs, including the tech-prep program that has been offered at Douglas High School for some years.
The cooperative work program gives work experience to people who have never worked so that they may find a job that requires experience. This is especially helpful for displaced homemakers or single parents, Hill said.
Other programs he discussed were the small apprenticeship program for ex-felons and a job services unit.
Hill said that for students who do not attend a four-year university, post-secondary education is important to prepare them for life after high school.
“About 90 percent of future jobs require some post-secondary training or education,” he said.
In addition, he said, the national school-to-careers movement is leaning toward getting students out of high school prepared to enter life. Criticism has been aimed at what U.S. high school graduates are really ready for.
The goal now, he said, is connecting education and employment.
“We need to get students thinking about what they are going to do later on and how to get prepared.”
More and more popular will be programs where high school students can earn college credit while still in high school, whether in academic or vocational programs. Several classes offered at Douglas and Whittell high schools offer dual credit.
Hill said the new certificates of completion will fit well into the school-to-career program.
He also emphasized that WNCC will not relax academic standards, and vocational students will have to take English and math.
Vicki Hafen-Scott, the WNCC Douglas advisory committee chair, said that the survey done in Douglas last year in preparation to setting up the certificate of completion program emphasized that employers want employees who understand math and can communicate well.
“Everyone felt that these were basic skills,” she said.
Jerry Barbee, dean of applied science and technology at WNCC and a Douglas resident, spoke of how the college attempts to provide specific programs that benefit area employers.
“If someone comes to us and says, ‘We need this,'” Barbee said. “We’ll provide instruction.”
Barbee described several programs that have been successful in training employees for WNCC service area businesses and manufacturers.
“We feel we’re successful,” he said. “The employment rate is high.”
Employers, employees and students are all saying, he added, that they want shorter term classes, weekend classes or intense one-week classes.
He explained the concept of open entry and exit, in which a student may just take a part of instruction that he or she needs and not stay for an entire semester. The student can earn one credit and learn the skills needed.
A recent survey of students at WNCC showed that 85 percent of them wanted to take classes to get a job or get a better job. And most of them worked as they took classes.
Barbee described a construction technology class that will be taught in conjunction with WNCC and the Douglas County School District at China Spring Youth Camp. Students will earn both high school and college credit. The project is expected to start in August.
The Douglas advisory committee is made up of Valley and Lake residents who have been asked by WNCC President Jim Randolph to advise the college on the kinds of curriculum the community wants to see offered at the Douglas campus.