By Dedra Cordle
A working mother of three wanted to better understand the electrical trades in order to assist her husband with their home improvement company. With a busy schedule, she worried that she would be unable to find the time to accomplish the task at hand until she learned that a training center for adults had been established nearby and was offering a course that could help her obtain the knowledge she needed. After successfully completing the program, she was hired by an electrical trades union and is now fixing properties across the county.
A young man with a social anxiety disorder wanted to learn the basics of welding but was intimidated by the thought of attending classes at a university where there would be dozens of students present. When he heard that an introduction to welding course was being offered in the evening at a local high school career academy, he took a chance and thrived in the smaller and more intimate setting.
A woman had a childhood dream of a career in the medical field but found her pathway harder to navigate due to financial constraints. When she was told that a state tested nurse assistant course was being offered at no cost to the individual, she knew that it was finally time to try to fulfill her life-long dream. Upon passing the exam and earning her credential, she received an offer to work at a care facility and is now doing what she feels she was always meant to do.
These are just a few of the stories that have been shared by individuals who have participated in the adult training hub that was established at the South-Western Career Academy last year. District officials who oversee the program say it is their hope that there will be many more success stories like these to come in the future.
When the state allocated funds in their biennial budget for the creation of the program that was designed to help adults earn credentials in various in-demand career fields, officials had an inkling that it could be successful but wanted to temper their expectations as new programs can sometimes be slow to catch on with the general public.
However, they said they could not help but feel a current of excitement over the potential of the program.
“The original expectation was that the adult training hub would be a needed addition to our community to upskill our adults who are underemployed or unemployed in a short term flexible setting,” said Denise Giesecke, coordinator of the adult training hub. “Knowing that the potential target audience could also include parents and older siblings of students in our district, we knew the opportunity to make an impact was great with the addition of this program.”
When the adult training hub had its grand opening in February of 2022, approximately 25 individuals participated in the course offerings, which were computer skills for the workplace and electrical concepts. Although it was a modest number, word quickly spread throughout that community that this new educational program held twice a week in the evenings could be a real boon for those looking to acquire new skills or even start a new career.
Since the adult training hub has been established, nearly 100 individuals have earned credentials – or are on their way to earning credentials as a new session started earlier this month – in automotive maintenance, computer skills in the workplace, electrical concepts, introduction to welding, and state tested nurse assistant.
Giesecke said at a recent meeting where she presented an update on the program to the board of education that the adult training hub has surpassed their initial expectations.
“In short, our program has exceeded our expectations in many ways,” she said. “To date we have served over 95 adults in our community and have a waiting list for many of the courses to help even more. Local businesses have stepped up to provide training, instructors, and financial resources to support each course.
“We have been overwhelmed by the gratitude of the participants as they work to acquire skills that will better their families lives.”
The majority of the operational funding for the program comes from the state, which allocated $150,000 to cover the cost of instructor wages for two years. Giesecke said the district is monitoring the progress of the new state budget that is being proposed.
“We await word that designated funds will be in the next state budget to remain funded,” she said.
The district also received donations from local businesses such as Pathways Credit Union and Performance Columbus to cover the cost of materials for the adult students. The city of Grove City recently allocated $50,000 to pay for equipment and supplies.
Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage was at the April 24 meeting to present a check to the board on behalf of the council. Stage said the administration, the city, and the council are committed to providing assistance to adult students who want to learn new skills through the program.
“It is such an important thing (to have in the community),” he said. “With the kind of businesses we have in Grove City, it is really important to make sure we’re doing – that all of us are doing – the things we can do to get the employees out there.”
Giesecke said that state and local funding – as well as business donations and partnerships – are what have enabled the adult training hub courses to be offered at no charge to the community. She reiterated that while the district is monitoring the state budget, they have not considered the implementation of a fee to enroll in the courses.
“At this time we have not considered a fee for the program as the original vision was to provide training free of charge to our community,” she said. “We want the program to continue to be accessible to all community members regardless of their ability to pay.”
The next round of courses at the adult training hub will be in the fall of 2023. The courses that are likely to be offered are Introduction to Automotive Maintenance, State Tested Nurse Assistant, and Welding but those sessions are not set in stone.
“The adult training hub is fluid, meaning our courses align with student interest and business needs,” said Giesecke. “At this time it is too early to predict what will be offered in the future. That is the beauty of the program, our courses are relevant and beneficial for economic development and growth.”
Giesecke said that individuals who are interested in enrolling at the adult training hub can visit the website www.swcsdcareertech.com for more information.