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Project will assist adult workers in Wyoming.

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) -- A group of community colleges has been awarded a $2.7 million U.S. Department of Labor grant to help unemployed or underemployed adults upgrade their skills and thereby improve their chances for employment or advancement.

Project director Ruth Benson said the Northern Wyoming Community College District, which includes campuses in Sheridan and Gillette, will be joined by Central Wyoming College of Riverton and Western Wyoming Community College of Rock Springs in the effort.

Benson envisions the target population as adults between 25 and 44, and older, who have work experience and good skills, but need additional training in order to obtain promotions or move into other jobs.

"We're kind of paving a new area of helping get completion of certificates and degrees on a /'aster path," she said. Such efforts could mean giving credit for work experience, or compressing classes in order to provide the same amount of information in a shorter time.

"Many times, they are still supporting their families while they are trying to go to school," Benson tells the Casper Star-Tribune.

The participating colleges will develop or modify existing curriculum in order to offer certificates of completion and degrees in industry supervision, mining supervision and entrepreneurship/innovation, according to a press release.

The program will focus strongly on the needs of individuals. "We're going to advise them right up front, stay in touch with them and make sure they're on the correct career path and getting the classes they need," she said.

The project will employ various strategies, including online classes, to make it easier for adult learners to upgrade skills and enhance their labor-force marketability.

Another driving force behind the effort is helping provide industries the skilled workers they need, Benson noted.

Benson said many industry relationships have already been established as a result of prior Department of Labor grants. In 2005, the Northern Wyoming Community College District received money to start up an industrial electric program, among other things. A second award in 2008 funded a mining technology program at Gillette College.

The money comes through the Trade Adjustment Act Community College Career Training program. It provides community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.

BY TOM MAST, CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE
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Title Annotation:tracking trends
Author:Mast, Tom
Publication:Community College Week
Date:May 28, 2012
Words:385
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