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JCC Aims To Expand Workforce Readiness

The Jamestown Community College Board of Trustees discussed expanding its Workforce Readiness program and recruitment efforts in 2020 during a meeting Tuesday. P-J file photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Last year, Jamestown Community College continued efforts with its Workforce Readiness program and implemented new recruitment strategies. In 2020, Dr. Daniel DeMarte, JCC president, said a focus will be to expand these initiatives that made an impact in 2019.

During a Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Holger Ekanger, Workforce Readiness vice president, said the program will seek additional feedback from the community and local employers for guidance on what JCC should be offering through its Manufacturing Technology Institute.

Going forward, Workforce Readiness will focus on organizing employer engagement activities and events; strengthening instructional resources and partnerships; and developing and implementing its programming.

Many of its programs in operation, and those soon to begin, are not solely focused on traditional college students.

“We’re looking at the individuals, the person that is underemployed, ideally a target group, as well as those who are unemployed,” Ekanger said regarding target areas.

The focus of certificates, while still connected to manufacturing and workforce readiness, is not focused on paths to earning degrees. Instead, various courses offer training for people looking for employment now. For example, JCC began offering supervisor training in 2019.

“Every employer we are meeting with are talking about foundational workplace skills, soft skills, and there is no magic bullet to address that,” Ekanger said.

Within the program is also the Workforce Readiness Scholarship that allows JCC students to attend programs offered at the MTI at no cost to student. It provides funding for in-state tuition, additional collegiate fees, book expenses and program supplies. Additionally, the scholarship covers expenses incurred from the student experience. The first crop of students within this program began in fall 2019.

DeMarte said developing connections with the 356 manufactures in the area is “going to take time.”

“We’re just going to stay on this, keep talking to them and figure this out,” he said.

Regarding overall recruitment, DeMarte said the college will again implement its parent-student orientations that were held in 2019. These events focused on college preparation and financial aid education.

In the spring, a similar event will be present in Allegany County, a region not targeted for this specific event last year. Other locations include Jamestown High School, Fredonia Central School and Salamanca High School with neighboring school districts likely to attend in conjunction with the host school.

“What’s different is we’re going to invite, specifically, parents of juniors and seniors,” DeMarte said. “We’d like them all to sit through a general session for about 45 minutes about JCC and then we’re going to peel off the seniors and parents of the seniors. We’ll put them in a computer lab and by the time they leave the goal is they will have completed a FAFSA application, the TAP application and they will have seen our scholarship information. So, we get them that much closer to a commitment to come to JCC.”

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