SFCC’s LearningForce: Your training partner

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StateFair_learningforceAt State Fair Community College, we believe everyone is a learner. We also believe everyone learns differently.

Whether you’re an employer who needs customized training for your staff, an individual who wants additional career skills or someone who just enjoys learning new things, SFCC’s LearningForce (LF) offers classes when and where you need them: on our campuses, on site and online.

The LearningForce was created in 2013 when the college combined its Business & Technology Center and Lifelong Learning office into one comprehensive department. LF offers nearly 400 classes annually, providing workforce, professional and personal development opportunities. Central Missouri native Jessica L. Craig took over as director in October 2014 and leads the college’s continuing education team.

“The creation of the LearningForce is unique to Missouri’s community colleges and to most in the nation,” says Craig. “We’re eager to develop our identity as a great community resource and increase LF’s visibility both on and off campus. We strive to build partnerships with communities and businesses throughout the region to strengthen economies and upskill the workforce. We collaborate daily with SFCC’s staff and faculty, tapping their expertise and bringing them into projects. We have the flexibility to develop exactly what the customer and the community need.”

LF programs meet three continuing education needs in its 14-county service area — knowledge, skills and enrichment:

Knowledge / Workforce Development

Workforce development classes are customized to meet a company’s specific needs, to help solve business problems and make sure its employees have the knowledge and skill sets to move the company forward and boost its bottom line.

“We sit down with companies and instructors, learn what their needs are and develop curriculum around those needs,” says Craig.

Each year, LF assists nearly 50 companies with securing millions of dollars in state training funds available through Missouri Works training programs. These funds mitigate costs for training new and current employees resulting in more competitive companies and upskilled workers throughout the region.

LF also is committed to partnering with city, county and regional economic development departments to support industry and community growth, says Craig.

“If a company plans to open a facility a year from now, we can identify, recruit, and hire new employees; help train them as the facility launches; and add courses to support new skill sets as the company evolves,” she says. “You can have the best site, building, transportation, infrastructure, and incentives, but without workers to support growth, you cannot be competitive.”

Skills / Professional Development

These classes are designed to meet individuals’ professional growth needs. The training can help individuals prepare for a specific job, improve job performance or boost their value and marketability by learning new skills required for a potential promotion. LF also offers a wide variety of classes for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“We offer everything from advanced Excel, Six Sigma, team building, and OSHA safety classes to a commercial truck driving academy, mobile marketing, leadership, and technical courses, just to name a few,” says Craig. “The variety of courses we offer is what makes us unique. If four or five people are interested, we can create a class.”

Enrichment / Personal Development

LF also offers scores of continuing education classes just for fun in areas like arts, crafts and hobbies; computer skills; dance and exercise; home and garden; summer Kids College for youngsters in preschool through ninth grade; and more.

“I’m so gratified to find how much our regional community embraces SFCC,” says Craig. “The Board of Trustees and leadership team are 100 percent supportive of our goal to help position our communities for growth in the future. We’re eager to take the great platform we’ve built locally and use it to develop learning opportunities throughout our entire region.”

Meet the LearningForce staff!

Jessica Craig, director, oversees all LF projects. Prior to joining SFCC, she worked for Metropolitan Community College and the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Throughout her career she has led economic and workforce development activities that resulted in 4,700 new jobs and $510 million in capital investment throughout Missouri. She has bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Finance from Missouri Valley College and is in the process of becoming a Certified Economic Developer.

Amy Jackson, assistant director, works directly with industrial, manufacturing and business clients and organizations in the college’s 14-county service area to create customized training plans and formulate training.

Jo Lynn Turley, coordinator, organizes all continuing education classes and everything needed to support them, from arranging for instructors and developing schedules to analyzing enrollment.

Nicki Gilbert, specialist, oversees the financial aspect of the department and administers the Missouri Works training program.

Ethelene Jagels, specialist, is the face of LF continuing education. For 28 years she has been helping people register for classes for personal growth, enrichment and fun.

A current list of LearningForce courses can be viewed at www.sfccmo.edu/thelearningforce. For more information, call (660) 530-5822 or email [email protected].

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