Accelerating Opportunity Grant Opens Doors for New Students

Nov 12, 2013 - | 11:52 AM -

Starting this spring, Ashland Community and Technical College will offer fast tracked education and training for students who are not college ready.

In 2018, more than half of all jobs in Kentucky will require some postsecondary education beyond high school. But 71% of all students entering a KCTCS college need remediation in one or more area.

Accelerating Opportunity (ashland.kctcs.edu/workforce_solutions/aoky) is a grant funded project aimed at helping some of those unprepared students become college and career ready at the same time. The focus is on getting the skills and credentials needed to obtain and succeed in family-sustaining jobs.

“This is a way for students who need extra support for college-level classes to get ready for a job in the shortest possible time,” said Chrisha Spears, Accelerating Opportunity Project Coordinator.

This three-year multistate initiative seeks to fundamentally change the way Adult Basic Education is structured and delivered at the state and institutional levels.  The goal is to substantially increase the number of adults who can earn a GED, complete a credential and enter the workplace with competitive skills.

The Accelerating Opportunity Project will combine basic skills education in math, reading and writing with technical skills training to prepare students for high- demand jobs. The program will also help students learn the skills needed to continue their education in the future.

This spring, Accelerating Opportunity will be offered in four high-skill technical fields– Welding, Industrial Maintenance, Diesel Technology and Health Care.  Students will learn from two instructors working together in the classroom – one for basic college skills and one for technical skills.

The students will also take support classes with an adult education instructor to get the math, reading and/or math skills needed for their technical field.  This approach will allow students to avoid most or all of the developmental education classes they would otherwise need to take.

“Our goal is to get them started on high-demand career programs that have stackable credentials,” Spears said.  “Students can earn one certificate that qualifies them for an entry level job at the same time they get general college-level skills.  Then they can go on for additional certificates that expand their job opportunities.”

“We are working to identify the job opportunities available for adults with various credentials, and we will be working with the business community to ensure students are getting the skills needed in the workplace,” Spears said.  “Our work with the students will include one-on-one services, such as resume writing, job search and interview prep to help them find a job once they have earned a credential.”

To qualify for Accelerating Opportunity, adults need to be high school graduates or working towards a GED, take the TABE (Test for Adult Basic Education), and complete a Financial Aid application (FAFSA) at fafsa.ed.gov.  The TABE is given through ACTC’s Adult Learning Center at the College Drive Campus.

“The best first step for people interested in getting ready for a good job quickly is to contact me,” Spears said. I can help them set up a TABE testing appointment and get started on the admission process.”

Spring classes don’t start until January 13, but the applicants will need to complete their testing and orientation before they can register for class.

The four career areas - Welding, Industrial Maintenance, Diesel Technology and Health Care– were chosen for their employment potential in the Tri-State. 

Classes for Welding and Industrial Maintenance are held at the Technology Drive Campus, located off the Industrial Parkway (KY 67), Diesel classes are held at ACTC’s Roberts Drive Campus in Ashland. Health Care classes are held at the College Drive Campus in Ashland. Information on these programs is available on ACTC web site at: ashland.kctcs.edu.

For more information about Accelerating Opportunity or an appointment, contact Spears at 606-326-2425 or email: chrisha.spears@kctcs.edu.

Accelerating Opportunity is a community college initiative of Jobs for the Future, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates, Joyce, W.K. Kellogg, Kresge, and Open Society Foundations, and in partnership with Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the National Council for Workforce Education, and The National College Transition Network.

The core partners in Kentucky, one of five states selected for this national project, are the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), Kentucky Adult Education and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.  All KCTCS colleges are participating, and grant information is at: www.aoky.kctcs.edu.