The South Illinois Growth Alliance met in regular monthly session on Wednesday, January 27 at the Agriculture Education Building on the Kaskaskia College main campus. The main item on the agenda was the group’s progress toward implementing its Career Awareness Action Plan, or CAAP.
CAAP’s stated purpose is “To develop and maintain a skilled workforce for our area’s business and industry to assure the economic vitality of our region.”
The first of four steps in the plan is to develop and launch a website devoted to bringing skilled job seekers and potential employers together for the mutual benefit of both. It was reported that while a mock website has been created, the need for pertinent content from area businesses and vocational education is holding back an immediate launch. Members brainstormed ideas for enticing businesses and schools to provide short videos and other materials to ensure that the website can meet the needs of visitors. The website is scheduled to be launched by the end of February 2016.
Speakers from the educational and business sectors discussed their needs in creating a skilled workforce to occupy current and future positions within area companies, while representatives from Kaskaskia College reiterated their pledge to provide the training necessary to fill those positions with candidates who are well trained and know the value of soft skills such as reporting to work on time, focusing on tasks and otherwise being a reliable employee. The lack of these soft skills in many current job candidates was the topic of a large discussion.
One participant, Janmarie Kent of Nascote Industries, spoke of the Magna Track partnership between her company and the College. In Magna Track, students receive training at the workplace, and, upon successful completion of the program, are offered full-time positions with the company. Both KC and Nascote have praised the program as a model of how the College and area industries can work together.
KC Dean of Career and Technical Education, George Evans, spoke of his belief that career and tech is the future of community colleges, but it needs industry buy-in. Vice-president of Instruction Greg Labyak emphasized that the College remains ready to implement “relevant and responsive” programs to meet employer needs.