Community colleges offer options for adult education
Whether out of work, looking for a career change or simply broadening your horizons, the Johnson County Community College continuing education program serves as a treasure trove of opportunity.
From job clubs to personal interest courses to acquiring skills to attract employment the continuing education division has plenty to offer those searching for a new career or getting back into the workforce. Continuing education is comprised of four divisions, the Center for Business and Technology, Community Services, the Carlsen Center and Kansas Small Business Development Center.
Phil Wegman, program director in the workforce community and economic development division, said division had seen a spike in enrollment for both credit and noncredit courses, from 33,235 registered in 2008 to 35,429 registered in 2009.
“We’ve seen more of a trend of people coming to school to enhance their skills,” he said. “I’ve seen a number of people who will come in for foreign language that might say by knowing Spanish, or the a number of languages we offer, will give them an advantage on getting a particular job.”
Sometimes all a person needs is basic computer skills to help them obtain a job, Wegman said. Courses in basic keyboarding, PowerPoint and Microsoft are available through the program.
Wegman said personal interest courses such as food and wine or aviation might lead some people to further pursue a career in that area.
“You can take a course and learn the basics then say ‘I’d like to pursue that,’ then take more courses down the line,” he said.
The resources and opportunities through the continuing education program allow people to take their interest further than just a simple course, Wegman said.
“Let’s say maybe you want to open your own wine and cheese store after taking the community services course,” he said. “You can get tips from the small business center or you could go take a business course. There are a lot of options.”
Other options include using career counselors through the Kansas Small Business Center or the program’s job club.
“Job club has grown tremendously,” Wegman said. “It’s here to help people, to give them support because losing a job you often feel like you are out there by yourself. They do a great job of supporting each other. There are resources out there they can tap in and use.”
Erica Miller, administrative assistant for community services and job club, said the program now offers three job club meetings per week, after filling up at the beginning of the year.
“It’s all about networking,” she said of the club. “We have announcements of opportunities in the area and jobs being offered.”
Miller said the club also makes people aware of the opportunities the college offers as far as career coaching, resume building and mock interviews. Not all those who attend the job club are out of work; some are simply exploring a career change, much like they can do with personal interest courses and career coaching.
Career planning services also have grown in the past year, Wegman said.
“There has been a large amount of people that go through career planning,” he said. “They look at what their interests are and what areas to consider for work.”
Course offerings through the Continuing Education program vary depending on interest, Wegman said.
Some courses are for credit while others, such as many of the community services courses are for personal growth. Some courses only have one session where some, such as foreign language have up to ten sessions.
Whether exploring a career change or simply improving your job value Johnson County Community College offers high interest, high quality, reasonably priced courses for all careers, Wegman said.