Getting a leg up

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JOB losses are at an all time national high. Applicants need every advantage they can get. Some find that in Adult Education

By Cindy DiFazio

staff writer/photographer

The numbers are staggering. In the last four months, 4.4 million jobs have been lost. Unemployment numbers are towering.

That means competition for available positions is stiff and applicants need every edge they can get to land the job.

The Henry County Adult Education program in New Castle may be able to help. Best known for assisting people to attain their GEDs, the Henry County Adult Education Center also offers many employment and higher education services.

Director Katrina Ackerman calls the center a one-stop agency.

Out of work residents can file for unemployment benefits and check out the job board for opportunities within and outside the local community. “We get the job listings from Louisville’s main unemployment office,” she said.

A check of the Workforce Investment Act Web site yielded many openings within 15 miles of the center’s New Castle office.

Farm work was posted in tobacco, field crops, nurseries and hay with hourly rates from $7.25 to $9.13. Store management and retail positions were available in Shelbyville and there were a number of jobs listed in the nursing, nutrition and customer service fields.

Besides job listings, WIA offers training programs for adults who already have a high school diploma or GED and fall into one of two categories:

• a dislocated worker program for individuals  who have been laid off and are receiving or have exhausted unemployment insurance and have not worked since the layoff.

• an adult program based upon an individual’s skill, educational level and ability to earn a self-sufficient income.

“This program helps cover the cost for learning additional skills for high demand jobs,” Ackerman said.

Occupations currently approved for training are in the fields of healthcare, trucking/heavy equipment material handling, information technology, education, business, medical office and skilled trades (welding, HVAC, automotive technician).

The center has partnered with area colleges and universities to help residents enroll in higher learning. Ackerman said assistance is available with financial aid forms and enrollment applications.

After utilizing the center’s resources to obtain her GED, Danette Clift of Pendleton said she began online college classes last August. Clift has four children ages 13 to 28 and admits making time for herself has been tough, putting off the education she insisted on for her children.

Early last year she lost her job. “I decided I was having so much trouble getting a job that after a couple months of looking I knew what I needed,” Clift said. “I enrolled (at the adult learning center) on April 1, 2008.”

Clift said she took the placement test and GED pre-test and found she needed to update her math skills. “I had been out of school 32 years,” she said. Spring break was coming up, but center staff allowed her to take home the necessary books to study over break. “I took the test in May and passed,” she said.

Ackerman said one thing that pushed Clift to achieve her GED in such a short timeframe was that her son was graduating from Eminence High School around that time. “She was determined to finish the same year as her son,” Ackerman said.

Clift now is in her fourth block of online college studies, majoring in Psychology. “I’ve had one B and the rest are As,” she said, and intends to earn her associate’s degree by April 2010. Her eventual goal is a master’s degree.

“Higher education is so important today,” she said, “with the technological advances and everything.”

The Henry County Adult Education center also is equipped to help people wishing to join the military by preparing them for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and locating a recruiter.

There also are plenty of options for those who still need a high school diploma.

Adult education classes are offered at the center Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon until 8 p.m. Classes are held at Windy Hills on Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon.

Recent graduates Jenice and Cameron Roberts of Eminence are a mother and son who earned their diplomas together. “I had been out of school for 30 years,” Jenice Roberts said. She said Cameron aced the test on his first attempt, but she had to take it over after missing just one too many answers on the math section.

Roberts, a custodian at Eminence Independent Schools, said she deeply appreciated the staff at the adult education center. “They are the best people in the world,” she said. “They helped me accomplish something I never thought I could.”

“We also have Next Step classes at the Eminence Community Center on Tuesdays from 6 until 8 p.m. where we offer childcare and homework assistance for our students who have children,” Ackerman said. She said adults can work on educational or career goals while children receive homework help and tutoring.

Clift said she intends to seek an internship as a therapeutic aide as soon as she has enough college credits.  “I feel so much better about myself,” she said. “I would highly recommend to anyone that you need to go back to school. It changes your whole perception.”

The Henry County Adult Education Center is located at 110 S. Property Road, New Castle next to New Castle Elementary School. Hours are Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from noon until 8 p.m. The phone number is (502) 845-0307. You can visit them online by selecting “adult education” at  www.henry.kyschools.us.

E-mail us about this article at news@hclocal.com.