(Originally published in the Telegraph on 7/20/08)
BETHALTO - Lewis and Clark Community College has sharpened its focus on improving area businesses, devoting the second floor of the Bethalto Education Center to corporate training courses.
The changes, put into effect on July 1, ended college credit course offerings at the Bethalto location but maintained the first-floor space allotted for adult education programs, including GED and literacy courses.
"The bottom line is there is just an increasing demand for corporate training, and as a result of that, we felt like the center could better serve the community by focusing additional efforts in corporate training," said Kent Scheffel, LCCC's associate vice president for community services.
The corporate training programs are geared "to help the businesses within the district be competitive in an increasingly challenging marketplace," said Tom Monroe, director of the Center for Workforce Training
Now in its 13th year of continuous enrollment growth, LCCC struggled for years to find the space necessary for corporate training, Monroe said.
"Before (July 1), we kind of had to beg, borrow and steal facilities around, and that doesn't result in the highest level of customer service that you can get," Monroe said. "The Bethalto location allows us to provide not only more volume but a higher level of customer service and friendliness. From our point of view, every business in the district is a customer, and we try to treat them that way."
The Center for Workforce Training offers a number of training programs, including contractor safety orientations and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration classes.
"We really are a full-service training organization that can either supply or outsource training needs that a business has within a district," Monroe said.
The center hires professionals to teach desktop software courses, which can help novices better understand the functions of basic programs such as Microsoft Office. Technical experts also instruct occasional programming classes.
"Right now, for Madison County, we're doing Visual Basic .NET and Java, which are pretty advanced software packages," Monroe said. "We're going to be doing some network training for them."
Other businesses, such as ConocoPhillips, Global Brass, Shell and Valero Energy Corp., send their employees to LCCC's facilities or request that a professional conduct training at corporate facilities.
"A company that employs contractors to come onto their property and do maintenance or capital improvement projects will want to ensure that people are sure of the safety issues of working on their property," Monroe said.
Monroe said 11,000 people participated in LCCC's corporate training program in the fiscal year beginning in July 2007 and ending in June 2008, making it the second-largest in the state.
LCCC still offers night classes for college credit in Bethalto at Civic Memorial High School, as well as other schools in Alton, Roxana, Bunker Hill, Carlinville, Gillespie, Staunton and Jerseyville.
"Our evening classes are really all over the place," Scheffel said.
LCCC also recently has expanded its facilities in Edwardsville, dedicating a phase of the Hoffman Center at the N.O. Nelson Center this spring.