Clark State president to lead national workforce council

Clark State Community College’s president has been elected to a national workforce council that could allow her to bring new ideas to improve programs in Clark County.

Jo Alice Blondin has been named as president-elect for the National Council for Workforce Education and then will serve as president next year.

“My colleagues on the board are from all over the country,” Blondin said. “It’s a good opportunity to learn what other community colleges are doing to increase workforce participation.”

The council is composed of mostly community college administrators, faculty and and workforce professionals. It pushes for policies that improve workforce development programs in higher education both at the state and federal level.

The organization currently is working with federal lawmakers to advocate for rules that would allow Pell grants to cover the cost of short-term credentials for students. Jobs increasingly require short-term certificates from employees, Blondin said, but Pell grants don’t cover those programs.

“We all know a lot jobs require these types of certifications, but they don’t necessarily require someone to go to school for two years initially,” Blondin said.

Blondin has been active in NCWE since her previous position at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, where she served as chancellor.

Blondin’s experience will also benefit the organization, said Darlene Miller, council executive director in a statement.

“As president elect, Jo Alice’s contributions will prove to be invaluable while we continue to provide support, resources and best practices to our members and the workforce education arena,” Miller said.

One idea from the group that has already been beneficial is an I-BEST, or Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, program from Washington state, Blondin said. The program integrates math and science skills into courses, instead of breaking them out in separate classes.

Clark State was the first community college in Ohio to use the I-BEST program, allowing students to get into the workforce faster, Blondin said.

Clark State has also shared its successes with other colleges, including a recent collaboration with the Chamber of Greater Springfield and area businesses to provide more internships and educational opportunities for students interested in manufacturing.

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