Schools Build Job-Ready Workforce

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 06:21
Greater Akron has a strong network of training and vocational outlets that keeps the region’s workforce job ready. At the Akron Institute of Herzing College, job-related skills training has been the No. 1 focus since the facility’s doors opened in 1970. The institute’s programs in allied health, information technology and business administration are some of its biggest draws, but new and reconfigured courses are always in the works, says David LaRue, campus president. “We’re looking at developing an accounting associate’s degree, and also a degree in radiology technology based on what we’re hearing from the business community about their needs,” LaRue says. “And we also are continuing our externship programs, where our students spend about 180 hours in the workplace.” The value there, he says, is that the students get to see what the work world is like, while the employers get to vet the institute’s students and offer feedback. The Portage Lakes Career Center offers a broad roster of classes for those wishing to learn new skills as well as update existing ones. The center works with companies to provide employee training, but also keeps an eye on industry trends in the region and adds classes where it sees a need, says Lynn Wright, adult education director. “If a company wants specialized training, we can have it ready in a day or two,” Wright says. “And we also have an advisory board that makes recommendations so that we have updated programs all the time. We also have consultants who work with us, so we can get out to companies and they tell us what they want.” A good example is the new beginning welding classes, which will teach the basics and a variety of techniques. “We can customize for a business by going there or by bringing their people here to a classroom setting,” Wright says. “They can take anything from computers to welding, and at a reasonable cost. We try to give them a program for as few or as many people as they have, so it can be really cost effective.”