01/18/12 — Continuing education offers many options

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Continuing education offers many options

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 18, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne Community College is refining its continuing education offerings, giving residents the chance to study everything from floral design to electrical contracting, officials said.

Ray Burrell, vice president of continuing education services, said there are a variety of classes from which students can choose -- and take online or in person. Some are for fun and others are for career-changers or those who are looking to get back on their feet after a layoff.

"(It) provides anyone an opportunity to go back to school, improve on their skills, to prepare them to go into the workforce, to provide them with the foundation," Burrell said. "It's an opportunity to hone those skills if you're in the workforce or become unemployed and want to get back into the workforce. We have all those opportunities here."

Technology offerings are particularly sought-after, said Larry Johnson, director, occupational extension/community service.

"Those who need additional skills on their jobs, those who own their own businesses, they can always use these computer skills," he said. "Churches and organizations can benefit from all of this."

Computer repair can be useful for home or business, as the class teaches not only ways to trouble-shoot on the personal or office computer, but has a certification component.

And then there is the popular administrative assistant certificate program.

"We have a product of that right here," Johnson said, citing a former student from the program who "stood out."

"I was doing factory work," said Lisa Newkirk. "I wanted a change, and I knew about the computer but I needed to bulk up on my skills. I knew that a piece of paper (certificate) would speak louder."

And it did. She was hired by the college four years ago and now works in the area of community service programs and occupation extension.

The premise of continuing education is to cater to life-long learners, whether that be for individual improvement or to respond to business and industry needs.

By its very nature, the courses can be more customized than other programs -- offered at a variety of locations around the county -- and are often in response to requests and suggestions.

"We do change classes based on what the needs are in the community," Burrell said. "I think that's the beauty of what we do in continuing education for the community is provide those individuals to come back and improve on their skills or learn new skills or change careers.

"If you have a need and you think that we can provide that service, by all means give us an opportunity to provide it."

A recent example of that is the effective communication course, designed to enhance business writing skills needed in the workplace. It has been offered twice and well-attended by county workers, the officials said, and is also open to the public.

Workplace Spanish is another class that is useful not only on the job but to communicate with Spanish-speaking citizens in the community, Johnson said.

Some residents might simply enjoy taking a class in their spare time -- like the 82-year-old retired dentist interested in learning Photoshop -- or the homeowner who decides to take introduction to interior design or basic plumbing.

But the college also seeks to provide programs that offer apprenticeships or certifications.

"That's one of the areas we're trying to focus on, pathways to lead to a credential, certificate or certification," Burrell said.

Advanced education can take on many forms, he noted, from those returning to school to complete a high school degree or acquire basic skills, or those embarking on a career path.

And that doesn't even count the "Ed to Go" format, more than 250 online courses from accounting and bookkeeping to how to lose weight.

While the typical continuing education course requires a minimum of 10 students, the online classes are done independently and have no restriction on the number enrolled.

For a complete listing of current classes, visit the college website, www.waynecc.edu/continuing-ed or call 739-6900.