North Idaho College provides vital resources for economic development

As a community college, North Idaho College not only fulfills its academic mission to provide students with affordable, quality education, but also serves as a driver for economic development in the region by providing services to business and industry.

Assessing the education and training needs of the community and adjusting programming and services to meet those needs make NIC a vital resource for workforce development.

But NIC also recognizes the importance of fostering a healthy economy through business development, offering training programs and small business mentoring to improve the local business climate and providing resources that make the area attractive to employers looking to start or relocate a business.

“NIC is a jewel in the community,” said Jobs Plus President Steve Griffitts. “NIC provides two key components to our success here at Jobs Plus, which is the phenomenal Workforce Training Center that is second to none, providing diverse services to the businesses and workforce of this region. Second is NIC's programs that not only provide a well-trained, qualified workforce for the businesses of the area, but also make the area attractive to families looking for affordable, quality educational opportunities. NIC's outstanding facilities and its continued emphasis on professional-technical education will only add further value to the community.”

Professional-Technical Education

Listening to key constituencies is key to meeting the training needs of the area.

North Idaho College did just that this fall with a needs assessment that placed three new programs on the books for fall semester 2005.

“Over the years, these programs kept reoccurring in conversations with the business community,” said Trades and Industry Division Chair Walt Carlson. “We performed needs assessments and received resounding positive responses from the community.”

Carlson added that the college also depends on business leaders and tradesmen to serve on advisory committees to develop curriculum for all of NIC's professional-technical programs to ensure that business needs are being met with a pool of qualified, well-trained graduates.

Outdoor Power/Recreational Vehicle Technology, Landscape Technology and the Human Resources Assistant program were added based on the current demand for these programs as well as the market outlook for job placement. The Welding Program was reinstated based on that same demand.

“These programs have promising job market outlooks,” Carlson said. “We've done our homework and now we're moving forward.”
NIC Workforce Training Center

The North Idaho College Workforce Training Center in Post Falls provides an array of services and appealing incentives to businesses looking to expand or relocate in the region.

Specifically tailored to working adults, Workforce Development provides services to those needing apprenticeships, enhanced professional skills, or continuing education programs for specific industry sectors as well as community education classes for personal enrichment.

Workforce training programs are usually short-term, noncredit classes that are affordable and conveniently scheduled to improve the workforce with updated skills in programs such as computer training, machining, electronic repair, real estate and health-related fields such as dental assisting and certified nurses assistants.

Enrollments at the Workforce Training Center reached 9,305 in 2004.

“Achieving the community goal of ‘more and better paying jobs' requires a strong partnering between education, economic development and business,” said NIC Workforce Training Center Director Robert Ketchum. “The Workforce Training Center was established by North Idaho College toward that end. Hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of working adults have sought education and training services from the NIC Workforce Training Center—then applying those skills for their own and their employers' benefit.”

The Qualified Worker Retraining Program, which was designed and funded through the Workforce Investment Act, also provides services to help the unemployed or underemployed obtain employment through skills assessments, job search, placement assistance, counseling and prevocational training.

The Workforce Training Center's Customized Training Department provides local and international training programs specifically designed to meet the training needs of each client. These customized training services are a valuable resource to current, relocating and new businesses.

Whether the training involves entry-level employees or top managers, NIC's Customized Training Department can design curriculum to accomplish the company's specific training objectives.

Customized training programs can be offered on site using qualified subject matter experts for live instruction or provided through a blended training approach using a combination of classroom training with CD-ROM computer-based training or interactive video conferencing.

“Clients who have completed customized training programs for a variety of initiatives such as leadership, team building and supervisory training have often been so pleased with the program results that they have made these programs an integrated part of their company training plan to continue over a period of years,” said NIC Director of Customized Training Vern Jenkins.

NIC's Customized Training Department has provided training programs to local companies such as Harper's, Stimson Lumber Company, Kootenai County, Sunshine Minting, Verizon Telecommunications and across the Washington border at Cascade Windows in Liberty Lake.

NIC's Customized Training Department has agreed to work closely with Buck Knives' human resources and operations managers to meet future training needs as they start up and expand manufacturing operations in Post Falls. During Buck Knives' move from California to North Idaho, the Workforce Training Center has provided the company with room rentals and housed the company's human resources manager in the Post Falls facility during the new employee recruiting and hiring phase of startup.

Another resource valuable to the area's small businesses is the Idaho Small Business Development Center, which is housed in the NIC Workforce Training Center and coordinated by Director John Overby.

The center provides consultations and training opportunities to the region's small businesses through its partnerships with the college and workforce training.

By focusing on growth, expansion, innovation, increased productivity and management improvement, the Idaho Small Business Development Center helps improve the small business climate in the local economy.

As a community college, North Idaho College serves the community. Not only with students as its client base, but also serving businesses as an economic driver of the local economy, whether it be through customized training, small business incubation or educating students through professional-technical training.

For More Information
NIC Director of Workforce Training Robert Ketchum, (208) 769-3221

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2005

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