Pamela A. Keene 2016-12-08 01:55:33
Lanier Technical College & Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology In the economic development and quality of life department, everyone wins with a well-trained and willing workforce. The keys are understanding the needs and meeting them where the demand is greatest. Barrow County’s workforce training and education initiative is forward-looking, preparing students and adults to fill the most in-demand jobs and getting these human resources matched with employers even more quickly. With the Barrow County campus of Lanier Technical College and the Barrow County Board of Education’s Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology, employers can expect to find a well-filled pipeline for employees with the right training, qualifications and education. LANIER TECHNICAL COLLEGE Times in the workforce have changed dramatically since the Barrow campus of Lanier Technical College opened in downtown Winder in 2002. As the county has grown and attracted more employers, the demand for highly trained and educated workers has boomed. “There was a huge need for additional space and to offer more targeted programs to meet the demands of a growing workforce,” says Lisa Maloof, dean of the Barrow campus. “With Barrow County now having a full-service college right here at home, Lanier Tech can accelerate the employment opportunities for our citizens and better support the employment needs of our local businesses.” Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Lanier Tech offers diploma and associate of applied science degrees that prepare graduates for a variety of high-skilled jobs. Perhaps the fastest-growing areas are welding technology, automotive technology, accounting, medical assistant, criminal justice, early childhood education and business management. “We are adding several other key programs that we expect to have strong enrollment and an excellent job-placement rate,” Maloof says. “These are the kinds of high-wage, high-demand jobs that will help our county and its residents continue to prosper.” The latest two-year programs to be added at the Barrow campus are a direct result of the technological advancements in business and automated manufacturing: building automation systems, wireless engineering technology and mechatronics, a combination of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. “These new programs will not only support businesses in and around Barrow County,” Maloof says, “but they will also help create the workforce needed by companies looking to locate here,” she says. Lanier Tech’s Barrow campus, which opened in January 2015, has 67,000 square feet of state-of-theart classrooms and laboratory space. Built at a cost of $16 million in state funds allocated by the Georgia General Assembly on 20 acres donated by the Barrow County Board of Education, it is located adjacent to Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology, the county’s charter career academy. The two institutions share some resources. In addition to serving recent high school graduates and adults seeking to change careers, Lanier Tech provides opportunities for current high school students to take college classes through the Move On When Ready Program. “We offer 27 general core classes that will transfer to other colleges in the University System of Georgia,” Maloof says. “This is an excellent way for high school students and adults who want to pursue a four-year degree to get a head start locally before they attend a four-year institution.” Maloof says that the majority of attendees at Lanier Tech are adults, either recent high school graduates or non-traditional students seeking to change careers and update their skills. “We consider ourselves a gateway to careers in the county and Northeast Georgia,” she says. “It’s important that we work hand-in-hand with new businesses coming here and with the chamber of commerce to identify and provide the training necessary to create a skilled workforce. We’re the county’s partner in economic development. We are committed to be responsive to their needs to keep pace with today’s emerging industries.” The Technical College System of Georgia comprises 22 colleges across the state and offers training in nearly 600 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs. The system partners with Quick Start, a workforce training program that readies people for the workforce. Lanier Technical College has four additional campuses in northeast Georgia. “Lanier Technical College is proud to be part of the Barrow County community,” says Ray Perren, Ph.D., president of Lanier Technical College. “Our campus and the programs we offer are designed to assure we provide business and industry with the workforce needed for the economy of Barrow County and Northeast Georgia to continue to thrive.” SIMS ACADEMY OF INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY Now beginning its third year, Sims Academy of Innovation and Technology fills a vital role for high school students in Barrow County. The charter school accepts students in grades nine through 12 who study specific career-path courses at Sims part of each day then return to their home high schools for the balance of their courses. “Our goal at Sims Academy is to help students prepare for the workforce by providing training for jobs that are relevant today and in the future,” says Michael Parks, academy program administrator. “All students in Barrow County are required to attend three semesters at Sims over a four-year period to help them prepare for the workforce. They have the ability to take classes they wouldn’t get in their home high school and experience the world of business first-hand.” For instance, students in Sims’ culinary program actually operate a restaurant that’s open to the public, doing everything from preparing the food to handling the day-to-day management responsibilities. Another enterprising group studying audio visual technology developed live streaming of Friday night football games. “They use state-of-the-art industry standard equipment, and now that they’ve learned and used the technology, they can go to work anywhere,” Parks says. “The engineering lab students built an electric race car, and this type of hands-on education is happening thanks to Sims Academy.” Parks, who grew up in Barrow County, says he’s amazed at what is available for young people in education today. “These students don’t even realize the resources they have,” he says. “And when their parents see the opportunities and the array of classes, they ask if they can enroll. It’s so different from what we had in high school, but then, so is the workforce. Our job is to keep up and stay ahead of today’s workforce needs.” Providing extraordinary opportunities for high school students as well as adults in search of a career change is what sets Barrow County apart. They make knowledge accessible, hands-on and life-changing. To learn how you can become trained and ready, visit these websites to learn more: laniertech.edu and simsacademyit.org.
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