Twenty Dental Assistants and 17 Nurse Aides from Lone Star College-Kingwood received their certificates as the first graduates under a cooperative program between Lone Star College-Kingwood and the Liberty County Workforce Academy (LCWA). All the graduates have jobs following graduation.
Training for jobs is the focus of this innovative program started by Tom Gassiott, Laurie Elliott, Shirley Sisk, and a coalition of educators across Liberty County. Approximately 80 percent of area residents enter the job market directly out of high school and receive no further training. Gassiott indicated that the TAKS requirements make it very difficult for students to receive career or technology training while attending high school. As a result a large gap has developed in the educational needs for jobs in the workforce not requiring a college degree and the Liberty County Workforce Academy was formed to help alleviate the problem.
The partnership includes Lone Star College-Kingwood, Lee College, Lamar Institute of Technology in Beaumont, and San Jacinto College, each offering unique programs and a training center for the needs of businesses locating in the area. Gassiott states, "It is definitely a win-win all the way around."
Businesses in the area have responded as grants and financial support continues to grow. Recently the Houston-Galveston Local Development Corporation gave a $50,000 grant to LCWA to fund scholarships for students in welding, pipefitting and electrical work. They realize the uniqueness of the teaming local colleges and independent school districts to provide an alternative to college as well as workforce education for adults who would like training.
Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald and County Commissioners Norman Brown, Todd Fontenot, and Lee Groce declared June 28, 2007 Liberty County Workforce Academy Day. Not only is acknowledgement and support coming from the business community, but jobs as well. As Laurie Elliot stated recently, "Industry is crying out that they need a labor force and you better believe industry is quickly coming on board with us."
Many counties in Texas are interested in similar partnerships. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) has also taken an interest. Businesses have offered suggestions for course study as they realize the potential of this program. Innovation of the program is constant as it grows and develops.
For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit our Web site at http://kingwood.lonestar.edu/.
Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit www.lonestar.edu.