Having some sort of advanced education is important in today’s job market. By the year 2020, it is estimated that around 60 percent of jobs in Texas will require a career certificate or college degree
Many Amarillo College students plan to go on and attend a four-year university, but about 40 percent of AC students choose to get a technical degree or certification instead. For some, going back to school is more of a challenge than to others, and AC has a program that helps returning students be successful with that process.
The Adult Basic Education Innovation – also known as the Advance Amarillo Project – is a work force training program that helps students who want a better career. The ABEI program offers students technical training combined with basic skills. The program targets adults who need help getting a GED or reading English as a second language. If a student needs help with any basic skills such as reading, math and writing, it also can help.
About three out of four students need at least one developmental course. The ABEI can aid those students who struggle to be successful in developmental courses. In the program, they are dual-enrolled in a tailored, basic skill curriculum along with vocational classes.
“Currently there are 17 students that will be testing for their state licensure for various certifications,” said Dr. Tamara Clunis, dean of academic success. Clunis said having the program available to students not only is valuable to them but to the community as a whole.
The ABEI is funded with a grant from Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program. The TAACCCT gives a minimum of one award to a community college in each of the 50 states. In 2011, AC was the state’s only nominee for the grant by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In 2012, the ABEI received honorable mention recognition from the National Council of Instructional Administrators for exemplary initiatives competition.
Although the program is in the pilot stage, it has seen great success.
“Getting the students to connect with a career path is important,” said Nola Bartling, an advising associate. Bartling said the students are encouraged to stack their credentials. For example, some of the certified nursing assistant students are studying to be phlebotomists.
“For many students, being able to support their families is the No. 1 priority,“ said Andrea Deleon, another advising associate. Deleon said some students come to the program with no job and just want to make a better life for themselves and their families. Deleon said the best part of her job is seeing students be successful.