South Piedmont Community College (SPCC), with a $556,380 grant from The Golden LEAF Foundation, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, took delivery of its mobile career opportunity lab Tuesday at the L.L Polk Campus. Dubbed the Job Ready bus, a schedule is being developed that will send the bus to outlying communities on a regular basis.
Linda Kappauf, director of Human Resources Development for SPCC, said the plan is for the bus to make regular stops in Morven, Lilesville, Peachland, Polkton and Burnsville, and maybe Wadesboro as well.
Kappauf said the Job Ready bus works on the same principle as a library bookmobile. With 13 computer work stations, the 38-foot bus will include:
● Assessment instruments such as the Test of Adult Basic Education and the Career Readiness Certification pre-test.
● Development of individual career plans.
● Adult Basic Education and GED classes.
● Computer skills training.
● Training in job-search skills, including resume writing, interviewing, presentations and workplace ethics.
● Preparation classes and testing for Career Readiness Certification (CRC).
The National Career Readiness Certificate verifies to an employer that an individual has essential core employability skills in reading, math and locating information. There are gold, silver and bronze levels of certification.
SPCC president John McKay said the idea behind the bus was to reach out to the rural areas of the county and to help create a Job Ready work force. SPCC’s Guaranteed Job Ready Workforce program assures employers that SPCC will retrain workers who come through the program if the employer says a worker does not have the skills necessary for the job.
Created in 1999 to administer half of North Carolina’s funds from the settlement with tobacco manufacturers, Golden LEAF's purpose is to improve the economy in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities. As part of that, McKay said, it works with counties to provide up to $2 million in each county to do what leaders there want to do to increase economic development. The Job Ready bus is part of Anson County’s share.
In addition to the bus, which cost $257,000, the grant will pay for two full-time employees for two years. Jonathan Phillips has already been hired as the recruitment specialist. “He’s working on the front end to establish locations in the community (for the bus to go to),” Kappauf said.
He will go out to churches and schools “to spread the word” to potential participants, Kappauf said.
A second person will be hired to be the career coach/instructor.
Equipment onboard the bus includes a Smartboard and 13 computer work stations. A satellite provides Internet access, television reception and telephone service. A lift makes the climate-controlled vehicle handicapped accessible.
Once someone has gone through the program, he or she will be handed back over to Phillips “to kind of link them back to (job) opportunities,” Kappauf said.
Some might also want to enroll at SPCC to further their education, Kappauf said, instead of immediately entering the work force.
McKay said the goal is to enroll 300 students and to have 100 of them Job Ready within two years.
The need for the bus is especially great in Anson County, which had a 14.8 percent unemployment rate in September, the last month for which figures are available. That does not include many potential workers whose unemployment benefits have expired and are no longer being counted. Many of those people live in the outlying communities, and some lack transportation. Taking the bus to them increases their chances of attaining the skills they need to seek and keep a job.
In 2005-2006, Anson was ranked last among North Carolina’s 100 counties in economic progress, according to a September 2007 report from East Carolina University’s Bureau of Business Research. Increasing the pool of employable adults has been identified as a key need for economic development in Anson County. The hope is that a more Job Ready work force will make employers more confident about investing or expanding in the county.
The bus is also available for SPCC Industry Services to provide customized training for Anson County industries’ employees on-site.
For more information, call 704-272-5300.