Athens State University and Calhoun Community College keep highly skilled talent flowing to this North Alabama region’s businesses.
A university in Athens and a nearby community college continue to produce a highly skilled and readily available workforce that’s fueling the Athens-Limestone County region’s economic growth and success. Thanks to the efforts of Athens State University and Calhoun Community College, the region’s businesses can draw from a large pool of homegrown talent.
“Workforce development is a key component of the university’s mission,” says Chris Latham, director of marketing, public relations & publications for Athens State University. “Athens State offers over 50 degree programs and options that produce highly competent and well-trained graduates – individuals who are ready to meet the demands of employers throughout the region and beyond.”
Latham notes that many of these programs were developed with industry leaders in order to help build specific skill sets and meet the challenges associated with the region’s rapidly growing economic area.
Did You Know?
As one of only a handful of upper-division universities in the country,
Athens State primarily serves working adults and community college graduates. The university offers those students a number of resources
and services to help connect them to local careers.
For example, the Experiential Learning program, embedded into the course curriculum, allows students to develop knowledge and learn new skills by applying theory and academic content to real-world experiences not only in the classroom but also in the community and the workplace through internships, undergraduate research and community service.
Training for the Future
With satellite campuses in Huntsville and Decatur, Calhoun Community College is the largest community college in the Alabama Community College System. Like Athens State, it plays a central role in the region’s workforce development efforts, offering some 100 different career training and degree programs.
“We provide technical training, health care training and everything students need to get from entry level into advanced degrees,” says Houston Blackwood, director of Workforce Solutions at Calhoun Community College.
“There’s nothing they can’t start here and finish with us
or one of our partner institutions.”
Houston Blackwood | Calhoun Community College
Blackwood says the college works closely with the business community to ensure students are learning the skills necessary to be successful in the local workplace. Those partnerships also give students the opportunity to get hands-on training through internships, externships and apprenticeships and gain a head start to promising careers.
“The best thing that we do is our apprenticeships, externships and internships,” Blackwood says. “In the classroom, a student goes through theory training, and that theory is often updated as technologies and processes develop. But when we put those students in a job for a semester or two, they experience those changes firsthand and learn how to adapt, then they have all the current information and are up to task and are prepared to seamlessly enter the workforce.”