"Workforce Education at Green River was VERY instrumental in allowing me to go back to school, and I'm grateful for all the assistance I received and continue to receive." - Genie L, Green River Student

"Make sure you talk to Workforce Education...They can help in many ways to make things go smoothly and make sense." - Chris S, Green River Student

"Workforce Education...will embrace you and lend a helping hand with open hearts." Elsie Q, Green River Student

"Workforce Education has been there for me since day one!" - Jenny S, Green River student

May 27, 2010

Professional Technical Training Programs At GRCC

Workforce Education funding programs aim to help qualifying students acquire a marketable set of skills.  Having acquried a marketable set of skills, students are then, in theory, poised to return to the workforce.  As such, our funding programs will support qualifying students who want to enroll in a career and technical program, or who want to take individual classes that fall under a given career and technical program. 

Here's a capsule summary of what we mean by "career and technical program," lifted in part from Green River's course catalogue:
There are 44 different career and technical programs available at Green River Community College. Each training program is designed to prepare students for immediate employment in a specific field or occupation.  Career and technical programs are offered in a wide variety of fields, from business and health sciences, to technical fields and trades.  They range in length from one quarter to two years or more, and they typically combine classroom learning with hands-on training using technology that's specific to the field / occupation in question.  Each career and technical program, notably, is guided by an IAC (Industry Advisory Committee) which works to ensure that each training program meets the needs of local business and industry.
That's the overview but we can dig a little deeper.  Career and technical programs come in different shapes and sizes—Associate in Applied Arts degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, Certificates, or Certificates of Proficiency.

Associate in Applied Arts (AAA) degrees typically take two years or more to complete, and are awarded for business and business-related fields.  They require earning a minimum of 90 credits with a minimun GPA of 2.0.  AAA's are intended to prepare students for immediate employment and not for transfer.  However, in some cases, credits earned in an AAA degree may be applied down the road to study at a four-year school or university.  In earning an AAA degree, you'll take "major field requirement" classes as well as "related instruction" classes.  Major field classes pertain to the occupation / field you're training for; related instruction classes include communication, math, and human relation classes that are intended to develop breadth of knowledge outside the major field.

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees, like AAA degrees, typically take two years or more to complete, and require earning a minimum of 90 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0.  AAS degrees are typically awarded to health science, technical, and trades-related fields.  AAS's are intended to prepare students for immediate employment and not for transfer, but in some cases, credits earned within a given AAS may be applied to study at a four-year school or university in the future.  In earning an AAS degree, you'll take "major field requirement" classes as well as "related instruction" classes.

Certificates (CERT) take less time to complete than AAA or AAS degrees.  They are intended to prepare students for immediate employment, and require earning a minimum of 45 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0.  When earning a certificate, you'll take major field classes and related instruction classes to enhance your learning.  In somes cases, the credits you earn in a Certificate program may be applied to an AAA or AAS degree.  In other words, you can first earn a Ceritificate then, if you want, stay on to complete a degree.  Some professional technical programs are set up so that Certificates feed into the larger, corresponding two year degree. 

Last, there are Certificates of Proficiency (CERT-P).  Certificates of Proficiency are awarded in some professional technical programs and are intended to prepare students for immediate employment.  They take less time to complete than a Certificate.  Coursework in a CERT-P  comes to 44 credits or less and requires earning a minimum GPA of 2.0.  Generally speaking, CERT-P's do not include taking classes outside the major subject.  In other words, you won't take related instruction classes, just major fields classes that pertain to the occupation you're training for. 

There you have it.  Four different kinds of career and technical program: The short-term Certificate of Proficiency (44 credits or less); the one year or more Certificate (45 credits or more); the two year or more Associate in Applied Science degree (90 credits or more); and the two year or more Associate in Applied Arts degree (90 credits or more).

To learn more, click here for a list of available career and technical degrees, certificates, and certificates of proficiency at Green River Community College.

May 24, 2010

Take A Career Assessment

Clients who visit the Workforce Education Office to apply for funding know they're in need of retraining, but not all of them are always sure what occupation they want to retrain for.  If that sounds like you, know that Green River provides a variety of tools that can help you select an occupation / career that fits your needs, interests, and strengths. 

Specifically, Green River offers three different professional career assessments to aid students in their search for fulfilling future careers.  These assessments include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), and StrengthsQuest. 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you determine what type of career would fit your personality.  According to greenriver.edu, the MBTI has been used for more than 50 years and is the most trusted personality tool available today.  In a nutshell it helps you:
  • Identify careers that might fit and satisfy you
  • Improve individual and team performance
  • Develop your leadership style
  • Idenitfy your personality type
The Strong Interest Inventory can help you determine which occupation most closely aligns with your interests. According to greenriver.edu, the SII has been used for nearly 80 years to guide students in their search for a rich and fulfilling line of work.  This assessment helps you:
  • Pinpoint the most satisfying career choice for you
  • Measure your interest in 6 general occupational themes
  • Find your fit in relation to 122 diverse occupations
Last of all, StrengthsQuest can help you determine what you do better than the next 1,000 people.  In other words, this particular assessment helps students identify, and thus play off of, their strengths. It is an innovate online assessment that looks at how you naturally think, relate with people, and influence those around you.  With StrengthsQuest, you can:
  • Discover and develop your 5 greatest strengths
  • Use your strengths to improve your grades and increase learning
  • Strategically determine a rewarding career path
  • Focus on your strengths rathen than on your weaknesses
Deciding on a career is an important, life-altering choice.  Don't just follow your gut.  Make an informed choice.  Analyzing your local job market, talking to career advisors and faculty members at the college, and engaging in a bit of self-exploration with the aid of professional career assessments, can help you achieve focus and direction.  And if you have focus and direction, chances are you'll be more successfull as a student. 

In sum, if you're in need of retraining but are uncertain of what occupation to retrain for, taking one or a mix of these assessments might help steer you in the right direction.  All three assessments can be purchased and taken at the Zgolinski Welcome Center.  Green River charges students $20 per assessment and non-students $40 per assessment.

Can't afford to purchase an assessment?  Visit the Workforce Education Office in SMT 229 to receive a waiver to take the Strong Interest Inventory at no cost.  Just ask the front desk assistant for a free career assessment.

May 20, 2010

Let's Talk Training Benefits

***For an update on the Training Benefits application, check out our more recent post***

Today's post is an informal discussion of the Training Benefits program.  If you're eligible to collect (or presently collecting) Unemployment and looking to attend a community or technical college so as to update a skill set or to retrain for a new occupation, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the Training Benefits program right away. 

Let's start with the technical definition.  The Training Benefits program was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2000.  It is administered by the Employment Security Deparment and it provides extended Unemployment benefits to dislocated workers whose occupations are in decline and are therefore in need of training to find a new job. 

In simpler terms, training benefits equals additional weeks of Unemployment you can collect while going to school to retrain for that new job.  Up to 26 weeks, to be exact.  That's up to half a year of extra Unemployment. 

If a given student applies and is approved for the Training Benefits program, the training benefits - or extra weeks of Unemployment - would kick in after his/her regular Unemployment benefits and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) have run out.  

To apply for the Training Benefits program, all's you need to do is fill out and submit a Training Benefits application.  It's only about 6 pages long but it will require some work.  Among other things, you'll have to demonstrate the following:
  • First, that you are coming from a decline occupation.  To determine if your occupation is in decline, the application prompts you to visit www.wilma.org/wdclists.  It's a user-friendly website that allows you to look up labor market info on any given occupation in your county of residence.  See page 3 of the application. 
  • Second, that the degree or certificate you want to pursue is on the Eligibility Training Provider List.  To determine this, the application prompts you to visit www.careerbridge.wa.gov/.  Also, you'll need to map out the specifics of your training program - what college you plan to attend, when you expect to begin the training program, and when you expect to complete the training program as a whole. See page 4 of the application.
  • Third and final, that the training will lead to a job, or to a variety of jobs, which are in demand.  Again, the application directs you back to www.wilma.org/wdclists to determine this.  See page 4 of the application.
Also note that embedded within the Training Benefits application is a request for something called Commissioner Approved Training (or CAT, for short).  This is fancy language for permission to go to school while drawing your Unemployment.  CAT does not extend your Unemployment benefits; it just gives you permission to go to school.  If you are approved for CAT, ESD will suspend the requirement for you to look for work so that you can focus on school.  If, and only if, you are approved.  See page 6 and 7 of the application. 

Therefore, in submitting the Training Benefits application, you're actually asking the Employment Security Department for two things - training benefits (additional weeks of Unemployment) and commissioner approved training (permission to go to school).  This is why the application is sometimes referred to as a TB/CAT or CAT/TB application. 

Once you have completed your Training Benefits application, you will need a representative from the college to review and sign off on the application so as to certify that the information you provided about your training program is reasonable and correct.  Make sure the college rep you ask to review and sign you application is qualified to do so.  Your final step is to submit the completed application, along with all corresponding printouts and job logs, either to the Training Benefits Unit by mail, or to your local WorkSource Affiliate in person. 

Oh, and one last thing.  The Training Benefits application is time sensitive.  As stated on page 1, ESD says you have 90 days to submit the application.  Specifically, that 90 day clock started ticking once you received your initial Unemployment Claims Kit in the mail.

If you have any questions regarding your 90 day deadline, or have further questions about your eligibility for training benefits or commissioner approved training, it's always a safe bet to connect with a WorkSource Specialist or an Unemployment Liason.  Get answers from a trusted authority and not from the rumor mill.

Hopefully, it's all starting to make a little bit of sense.

May 14, 2010

Job Club

FYI - The Job Club at Green River Community College will be meeting throughout the month of May in SMT 341 every Wednesday from 2 - 3 pm.  The aim of Job Club is to help students learn new skills and master new tools to help them with their next job search.  The topics that will be addressed in Job Club are as follows:

May 5th,   2010  -  Writing Resumes and Cover Letters
May 12th, 2010  -  Job Search Tools
May 19th, 2010  -  Interviewing Skills
May 26th, 2010  -  Salary Negotiations  
June 2nd, 2010   -  Interviewing Skills

If you have questions or want more information, call 253-833-9111 ext 2553 or visit Karen Brasch in SMT 229.

About The Go 2 College Free Program

Go 2 College Free is the name of a campaign at Green River Community College put on throughout the year by the Workforce Education Office. In a nutshell, Workforce Education administers four funding programs that help qualifying students pay for school. Our funding programs include Worker Retraining, Opportunity Grant, Basic Food Employment & Training, and WorkFirst. Most of our programs pay for 100% of tuition and fees, and some even offer money for books. Let's briefly talk about each funding program in a little more detail.

First, there's the Worker Retraining Program.

This program is available to students in need of a skill update and who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate at Green River Community College.  You might qualify for the Worker Retraining program at GRCC if you are collecting Unemployment, if you have exhausted your Unemployment within the last 2 years, or if you have recently receiving a layoff notice.  You might also qualify if you have separated from the Armed Forces within the last 2 years with an honorable discharge or if you are displaced as a result of a divorce, separation, or death of a partner / spouse. 

Second, there's the Opportunity Grant Program.

This program is available to students who want to earn a profressional technical degree or certificate in the field of Autobody, Aviation, Business, Education, Healthcare, Natural Resources, or Welding. You might qualify for the Opportunity Grant program if you are a Washington State resident who meets a set of low-income guidelines.

Third, there's the Basic Food Employment & Training Program (or BFET, for short).

This program was first piloted in Washington State in 2005 at South Seattle Community College. Since, it has expanded to various other community and technical colleges throughout the state, including Green River Community College.  This program is available to students who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate, or who want to earn their GED or High School Diploma.  You might qualify if you live in either King, Pierce, or Kitsap County and if you are eligible to receive Basic Food Assistance

Fourth and final, there's the WorkFirst Program.

This program, like BFET, is available to students who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate, who want to earn their GED or High School Diploma.  You might qualify if you are a parent who receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and if you have permission from your DSHS case manager to go to school. 


To apply, visit go2collegefree.com.  A the website you can take a brief, anonymous survey to confirm your eligibility; after taking the survey, you can then sign yourself up for the next available Go 2 College Free funding workshop.  Workshops are offered on a rotating basis throughout the year, before the start of each quarter of study, and are typically held on the Auburn main campus.