DCC puts focus on technical programs
By Jason Stuart
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
Dawson Community College is working to enhance its technical programs to help ease its students’ transition into the workforce.
The college is in the process of utilizing the $562,587 grant it received last fall from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program to beef up its technical programs.
According to DCC Vice President of Instruction and Student Services Dr. Ted Phillips, the college’s welding program will be the first beneficiary.
He said DCC’s welding instructors have been sent to several different trainings recently to enhance what the program can offer students.
“One of the big pieces that’s here that’s not been before is (instructors) are going through this program to ensure our standards are ready for the National Career Readiness Certificate,” Phillips said.
According to Phillips, the National Career Readiness Certificate “is like a transportable certificate” that welding students will be able to complete in a single semester.
The certificate is provided through collegiate testing company ACT. According to the ACT website, the certificate “is a portable credential that demonstrates achievement and a certain level of workplace employability skills.”
“This is something that’s recognized in those trades,” Phillips said. “It’s just getting (students) in the workforce quicker, with a consistent curriculum.”
Building a consistent curriculum across Montana’s colleges that offer technical programs has been an important part of the process, according to Phillips.
“It’s always been a struggle with the technical programs to make sure that the curriculum from one college meets the one from another college,” he said. “I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
While DCC is looking to enhance its existing programs, Phillips said the college is open to the possibility of starting new programs based on community demand.
“I think we’ll probably be talking to some folks in the community,” he said. “We’ll start having some conversations about some of the things that have been mentioned just to see what the need is.”
Phillips said he is still “kind of intrigued” by the long gestating idea of starting a culinary program at DCC, though possibly not as a for credit program and almost certainly not a program that trains chefs.
“I think some of the things we look at, non-credit may work out better,” he said.
Phillips added that DCC’s summer paleontology course will be offered this year as a not for credit course in the hopes that it will generate more interest from community members who aren’t necessarily interested in earning college credits.
DCC needs to think outside the box when it comes to offering new programs, according to Phillips, and try to do more things that appeal to the community and aren’t tied to college credits.
“We’re hoping if we use this new model, it may kick some things off,” he said. “What we need to do is get the community excited about things that we can do up here for them.”
Reach Jason Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.