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WJBD - Local News - Kaskaskia College To Investigate Ideas Discussed At Salem Education Center Meeting

Kaskaskia College President Jim Underwood (left) and Bill Hawley (right) lead discussion at Salem Education Advisory Committee meeting.

Kaskaskia College To Investigate Ideas Discussed At Salem Education Center Meeting

Salem Mayor John Raymer has asked Kaskaskia College to look at providing more entry level training for manufacturing jobs and help in developing students to take over existing small businesses.  

Raymer noted the need for both at the Advisory Committee for the Salem Education Center on Wednesday.   Raymer is concerned about the future of sole proprietorships where the current owners are well above retirement age and no plan to keep the businesses going.  "There is already a business in operation.  What would it take to get our local students, our Kaskaskia students, our Salem High graduates, our Centralia graduates, how would we get those people to the point they could see that business and they could find a way to become involved in that business so they might want to buy and take over that business as their job opportunity," said Raymer. 

Raymer noted the frustration of industry in finding qualified entry level personnel.   He fears some of the industries will be unable to continue their expansion locally without solving the problem.  

Dean of Student Success Scott Crothers noted the college is already working with Ameren to provide assistance for students who need to pass an entry level skills test.  He says they will soon be working with North American Lighting in a similar capacity.  

Crothers also announced the college has applied for a one and a half million dollar grant to expand the college's  industrial technology program to include plastics.  "If we are able to get that grant, it will allow us to hire a new faculty member, to bring in injection and molding technology so students can prepare to go into a manufacturing environment like North American Lighting or like so many of the others," said Crothers.   

Crothers is optimistic the college will receive the grant.  If they are successful, KC would become the first community college in Illinois to offer a plastics program.  

College President Dr. Jim Underwood is interested in pursuing another of Raymer's ideas to provide vocational counselors to help direct people to study areas where jobs are available.  "We'll explore that idea to connect the communities with the college in terms of the short term certificate programs to get people equipped and ready for those good paying jobs," said Underwood.  

Underwood noted 55-percent of their students are now in vocational certificate programs.  

Underwood said the college would also explore the possibility of providing classes over a longer period of time for those working full time jobs.  Salem Police Chief Ron Campo notes how he is limited in sending officers to classes that meet four days a week but would be more than willing if it was a one day a week commitment.  

Salem Business Owner and KC Adjunct Professor Bruce Jones asked the college to assist in trying to point out the importance of volunteerism to students.   He noted many organizations are suffering from lack of younger members being involved.    

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