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Remington College targets teaching job skills in demand.

LITFLE ROCK'S EDUCATION America Inc. last year renamed its campuses, which stretch from Florida to Hawaii, Remington College.

While Jerald M. "Jerry" Barnett Jr., chairman, said the move hasn't helped the private career college's growth yet, he and Pedro C. De Guzman, senior vice president and chief operating officer, think that in time it will. And "the students are happier with the new name," said Barnett.

"In two, three or four years from now, as we graduate more students and get them in the marketplace, I think Remington will grow," said De Guzman.

Remington, primarily through acquisitions, has grown to 21 campuses in the U.S., mostly concentrated in middle-sized markets. Combined, the campuses have an enrollment of more than 10,000 students.

The newly opened 37,500-SF, nearly $5 million building that makes up the Little Rock campus off Col. Glenn Road is one of the smaller branches of the college at 375 full-time students.

The new building was built in southwest Little Rock to attract more students from Benton and Bryant, De Guzman said. And apparently it's working.

The Little Rock branch of Remington grew about 20 percent in the past year, Barnett said, while college enrollment on all the campuses combined was up 5-6 percent.

The average Remington student is in the 18-27 age range, De Guzman said, and has been out of high school for awhile.

He said the school does very little recruiting of students in high schools, instead focusing primarily on those who are looking at starting a career or changing a career. Remington markets itself through television advertisements, direct mail and the Internet.

De Guzman said Remington sees itself as an alternative to traditional schools and that its students are more interested in getting the skills needed for a job than they are in getting a degree.

Most of Remington's students get diplomas or associate degrees. The Little Rock campus doesn't offer a bachelor's degree, and although bachelor degrees are offered on other campuses, only about 2-3 percent of the students ever get them.

Remington's courses are designed to be relevant to the needs of both students and employers. Its courses are developed only in areas that are expected to have high demand for skilled workers in the coming years.

"We train students for jobs that are in demand," Barnett said. "We focus on what students want and then help them to get a job doing that."

"We let the market tell us what is needed," De Guzman said. "For instance, we have very few IT students, because the jobs aren't here. Until there's a demand, students won't come."

That looks to be just the opposite of what the Central Arkansas Economic Development Alliance heard recently from the economic development firm Angelou Economics of Austin, Texas, about how central Arkansas can attract more businesses in the next 10 to 20 years.

While CAEDA wants to go after businesses in targeted industries such as automotive, biotechnology, information technology, aerospace and financial services, the Angelou study said the region doesn't have the necessary high school, college and certificate programs to support them.

Barnett compared the debate to the old chicken-and-egg question and said Remington will continue to train workers for jobs already in demand.

About 60 percent of the Little Rock students are in health-related courses, training to be medical assistants for doctors, hospitals, clinics and nursing homes. It's an eight-month diploma program that qualifies them for entry-level positions in both administrative and clinical procedures.

The other 40 percent of Little Rock students are enrolled in courses such as business office specialist, pharmacy technician, business information systems and computer networking technology and criminal justice, the only courses in which associate degrees are offered at Little Rock.

"We're all about the success rate of our students," said De Guzman. "We're very employment-centered." The school seeks to graduate a high percentage of students--the rate is now 70-75 percent--and to help those graduating students achieve employment in their chosen field, Barnett and De Guzman said.

Remington touts its blend of traditional teaching methods and practical experience through its motto: "Real Skills for the Real World."

Remington College is licensed by the state Board of Higher Education. All of its campuses are nationally accredited.

Education America is headquartered in Little Rock because Barnett is from Little Rock. And he has no plans to move the company that employs about 100 at its offices in the Discovery Museum Center in the River Market district.

Barnett said Education America is in the process of reviewing its goals for Remington College. He expects to see an 8-10 percent growth in enrollment for 2005. And he's looking at starting one or two new campuses. He also keeps an eye out for acquisitions of small private colleges, which is how the company has grown to its present level from its beginnings in 1985.
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Title Annotation:Business Education
Comment:Remington College targets teaching job skills in demand.(Business Education)
Author:Henry, John
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 9, 2004
Words:809
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