A Kaskaskia College dean disputes claims that there are no jobs available in this area, and he says that KC can prepare local residents for the ones that are out there.
Speaking at the community form held recently at the KC Vandalia Campus, George Evans, dean of career and technical education, said, “There are more jobs in our district than we have students.
“The jobs are there, the pay is there, the training is there and there for a minimal amount of expense,” Evans said.
The training offered by KC covers many professions, including: accounting, agriculture, architectural design, carpentry, computers, dental assisting, diagnostic medical sonography, geo-spatial technology, heating and air conditioning, nursing, paramedicine, physical therapy, radiologic and respiratory technology and truck driving.
“I can tell you right now, there are more jobs in our district than I have students in vocational trades,” Evans said, “and it’s not for lack of quality education in my programs.
“We are very actively promoting trades, because that’s where there are jobs,” he said, adding that all of KC’s teachers in that area of concentration at the Crisp Technology Center are experts in their specific area and have more than 20 years of experience.
Jobs that pay in the range of $35,000-$60,000 are out there, he said, “and we’re going to find you work.”
For example, Evans said, he knows of two area 19-year-olds who are making $65,000 as welders.
“Those are good trades, those are good jobs, and they’re in our district,” he said.
Later in the meeting, those attending the community forum heard that the college will be increasing its efforts to educate the community on all that KC has to offer.
Mary Schulze, director of KC’s education center in Vandalia, said that she will be going out in the community more in the future, setting up at locations at which she can spread the word about Kaskaskia College and its local campus.
Schulze said she will be going to such places as the CEFS Economic Opportunity Corp. office in Vandalia, Fayette County Health Department and Evans Library.
“We want to let people who visit these places that we are here and what we have to offer,” Schulze said.
And Dr. Susan Batchelor, vice president of student services, said at the forum that those local residents who want to further their education and receive training can get help in paying for that.
Batchelor said that she wanted to “touch on the affordability and the opportunity for financial assistance and scholarships” at KC.
A two-year student at Kaskaskia College, Batchelor said, “could easily receive up to $11,000 for tuition assistance.”
Plus, she said, tuition at KC is “significantly less, sometimes half as much” as at other colleges.
And not only is KC affordable, she said, it’s also very accessible, with classes available on campus in Centralia, at education centers like the one in Vandalia and online.
Dr. Penny Quinn, KC president, said that Kaskaskia College has been ranked second in the state among community colleges in the area of quality and is in the top 8 percent among those nationwide.
“We are evaluated on cost and financing, educational outcomes and career opportunities.
“We offer great quality, great opportunities for students, and we need to remind folks of that,” Quinn said.
“I think that sometimes people have an image in their mind that they need to leave home to find that, and you definitely do not,” she said.
Quinn said that after two years of operating while there was a budget impasse in Springfield, KC is now receiving funds from the state.
But, she said, “We are receiving fewer dollars than we have in the past. So, just because funds are flowing doesn’t mean everything is back to normal.
“We still have to make some changes in how we do business,” Quinn said, “but were are making those changes without impacting the quality of instruction and our services to students.”
During the budget impasse, one of the cost-saving measures implemented by KC was reducing the class schedule from five days to four.
Starting in the fall of next year, she said, KC will return to a five-day schedule.