ACTC Adds Computer Program Classes

Oct 02, 2012 - | 02:10 PM -

Ashland Community and Technical College has added new classes in the Computer and Information Technologies (CIT) Program.  

“Connecting the CIT program to real world requirements is the best way we can make sure our students are job ready when they leave here” said David Childress, Associate Professor and CIT Program Coordinator.

“Our focus is on teaching knowledge and skills that reflect employer needs,” Childress said.  “We also are working to provide students with access to the certifications they need to qualify for good jobs.” 

What Employers Want

A new report issued last month, Credentials that Work, utilized both traditional and real-time labor market information to project employer needs and job requirements for Information Technology occupations.

The Credentials that Work report was issued by Jobs for the Future, a partnership of educators and employers working to align technical education with labor market needs.  The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is one of ten partnering educational systems in the project to analyze workforce trends.

The report is intended to help educators and businesses respond to current needs and anticipate trends.

According to the report, information technology (IT) occupations continue to offer opportunities for job seekers, despite the current high unemployment rate.  IT employment is expected to grow “much faster than the average” of all occupations through 2018.

Based on job postings in 2011, the top ten technical skills that employers want in their IT employers are programming and application development, project management, help desk and technical support, networking, business intelligence, data center, Web 2.0, security, telecommunications and collaboration architecture. 

“Our CIT program provides needed technical networking skills, and we added a security class this fall to address the growing emphasis on security in many CIT fields,” Childress said.

According to the report, the top non-technical skills that employers want include communication, writing, customer service, troubleshooting and problem solving.

“These are the same non-technical requirements that we hear about from our local advisory board members,” said Childress. “We have general education classes such as writing, communications and math in the degree program, and we’ve added a capstone course that emphasizes customer service and good communication skills.”

“We have been very pleased with the entry-level skills shown by the graduates of the ACTC Computer and Information Technologies  program and how they have adapted and come up to speed in a complex, demanding work environment such as HealthCare,” said Brian Rodehaver, Sr. Network Analyst for Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital –Bon Secours.

What CIT Offers

ACTC’s CIT Program offers a Network Administration degree entirely online, although many of the Gen Ed courses can be taken in traditional classrooms, if desired. Childress noted “Many of our students are also working and find the online classes more convenient.” 

The Associate in Applied Science Degree Program combines technical courses with general education courses and offers a choice of Microsoft or Cisco networking options, the two networking systems most in demand among employers. In fact, many CIT students complete both tracks.

Students who complete the degree automatically earn KCTCS certificates in A+, IT Fundamentals, and either Cisco Certified Network Associate or Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. These are the industry standards that employers look for when seeking potential CIT professionals.

Father and son students show the versatility of CIT for people in different stages of life, whether just starting out or starting over.

“I’m restarting at age 46 and need to get myself into a position where I can get a good job and prepare for retirement,” said Jack D. Johnson.  “After being self-employed for many years in technology design fields, I was forced by an illness to rethink my future.”

“Several people recommended ACTC when I came to Ashland to be close to family,” Johnson said. “My goal is to get ready for a network administration position, and everything you need to finish a degree is offered here. It was extremely easy to get back in school, and the faculty have been supportive every step of the way.”

“I didn’t need college to get a job when I first got out of high school, but my son does,” he added.

His son, Joshua D. Johnson, decided that CIT would give him a good start, with opportunities for a job that could grow and change over time as his interests change. The variety of CIT jobs available in computer applications, programming, research, analysis and management, as well as graphic design and multimedia management, can provide a variety of career paths.

Associate degree graduates are prepared for jobs in computer support. A typical career path according to Credentials That Work is to start at Computer Support Specialist with an associate degree and move to Database Administrator, Network and Data Analyst, or Computer Programmer with a bachelor’s degree plus experience.

ACTC graduates who want to go on for a bachelor’s degree can choose a 2+2 transfer option with Western Kentucky University or Murray State University, and online degrees are available with many other universities.

Network administrators design, set-up, maintain and expand networked computer systems, and these skills are in demand, according to the Kentucky Education Cabinet, Department for Workforce Investment. 

For occupations requiring an associate degree or postsecondary education, Computer Support Specialists are in the top 20 Kentucky occupations with the most annual job openings to 2018. For jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree, Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts top the list of Kentucky occupations with the fastest growth rate to 2018. 

For more information on Computer and Information Technologies, contact Childress at 606-326-2004 or email: david.childress@kctcs.edu