Techniques Magazine Techniques February 2011 : Page 44

ADuLT EDuCATION AND RETRAINING Adult and RetuRning Students: Serving One College’s Experience BY MICHAEL A. kENNAMER AND J. DAVID CAMPbELL n 2009, Community College Week named Northeast Alabama Com -munity College (NACC) one of the fastest growing community colleges in America. In the early 2000s, the college, which is located in the rural Appalachian region of Alabama, had be -gun efforts to increase enrollment. These efforts included providing online registra -tion, online courses, an expanded class schedule, a student loan program, dual enrollment courses at area high schools, intensified student recruiting, focused marketing and promotions, and com -munity events on campus to bring area residents to the college. As a result, the college saw a jump in credit headcount enrollment from 1,659 the fall semester of 2000-2001 to 2,247 the fall semester of 2005-2006. Although there were a few work -force training programs offered, such as registered nursing, drafting and design, emergency medical services, and indus -trial electronics, the college had histori -cally focused on academic transfer. In an effort to become a truly comprehensive I community college, additional career and technical education (CTE) programs were added to the curriculum to meet future workforce needs. To accomplish this, college officials sought guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on what were anticipated to be high-growth jobs of the future. Additionally, officials were advised by local industry and business leaders as to what their employment needs were and would be in the future; advisory boards were established to provide frontline input. As a result, numerous career pro -grams were added to the college, includ -ing practical nursing, medical assisting, industrial systems technology, welding technology, machine tool technology, cosmetology, criminal justice, and child development. Noncredit certificate training programs in the college’s Skills Training Division were also added, particularly in health fields. On-campus partnership programs were established with Wallace State Com-munity College at Hanceville in the areas of physical therapy assistant and respirato -ry therapy. An adult education program, leading to the GED, also became a part of the college. With the addition of these new programs, NACC became a truly comprehensive community college with a far-reaching and varied mission. The boom began By 2005, enrollment was increasing significantly. This upward pattern was accelerated with the downturn that oc -curred in the U.S. economy beginning locally in 2007 and 2008; the area that the college serves was hit especially hard. This area includes Jackson County, the northern half of DeKalb County, and a small part of Cherokee County. The textile industry had served much of this area, particularly DeKalb County, whose county seat had been dubbed the “sock capitol of the world.” Changes within the textile industry led to plant closings and layoffs—the unemployment rates shot up to 15 percent in DeKalb County and 13 percent in Jackson County. In DeKalb County, the number of those directly em -ployed in the hosiery industry decreased from 8,000 in 2001 to some 1,200 today. www.acteonline.org 44 Techniques Februar y 2011

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