SHERIDAN — Wyoming Education Attainment Executive Committee launched the Wyoming Works program June 20, allocating $5 million from the state Legislature to support the program; $3 million will be used for individual student grants and the remaining will be used to support program development.
Wyoming Works is designed to provide programs and resources to allow adult students to learn skills that will lead to employment, the committee said in a press release.
“We have done very well in Wyoming for the traditional academic college-bound student looking for a four-year degree,” said committee member Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan. “What we have not done and what this bill is intended to do is provide assistance to those that are surviving but not thriving.”
Wyoming Works will not focus on four-year degrees. Instead, it will address the needs of communities and the state. The Wyoming Community College Commission will manage the rules and guidelines for the program.
“This is the type of bold leadership that demonstrates the strength of the partnership among education, industry, and policy-makers,” said Sandy Caldwell, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, in a press release. “Employers are sharing with us their needs and our community colleges are ready to respond.”
The commission had a regular meeting in Riverton June 13 where initial rules and guidelines were established through a unanimous vote.
The highest priority for funding will go to the programs that help lead to professions that are in high demand within a community. The training that is needed will be provided regardless of whether it leads to a college degree. Under Wyoming Works, people wanting to receive the training do not need a high school diploma or GED if the training is a high priority, Kinskey said.
This program aligns the funding for Wyoming community colleges with other community colleges nationwide. Kinskey said community colleges are designed to provide workforce training for the community.
The target audience for this program are adults who are looking to return to school or to receive a certification.
Wyoming Works is designed to help people move up in the job market. Through Wyoming Works they can receive training quickly and inexpensively, allowing them to improve their job standing.
Kinskey gave the example of a single mother who is wanting to get a better job but does not have the time or the money to get the training or degree needed. Wyoming Works will help with scholarships to allow her to attend school and take classes at night or on the weekends. From the classes, she can receive the education she needs to get a better job.
Wyoming Works was signed into law this past legislative session that ended in March.
Sheridan College has 34 programs listed on their website that would fall under Wyoming Works. Gillette college has 23 programs being offered under Wyoming Works. More programs will be developed later.
Sheridan College will be creating programs that will allow students to gain funding from Wyoming Works to receive industry certificates.
Students taking these course would not be eligible to receive aid from federal funding, said Leah Barrett, vice president for student affairs at Sheridan College.
Industry certificates include courses lasting a few weeks. Certified Nursing Assistant, Commercial Drivers Licenses and industrial sewing are examples of these courses. CNA courses are already offered under Wyoming Works. Barrett said that the WCCC is working on moving the other programs under Wyoming Works.
An updated list of programs for Wyoming Works being offered by Sheridan College and Gillette College can be found at https://www.sheridan.edu/about/grants/wyoming-works/
The site gives instruction on how to apply to receive a grant from Wyoming Works, Barrett said.
Across the U.S, there has been a trend pushing funding for vocational jobs and training.
Kinskey said that Wyoming Works reinforces this trend to help people receive vocational skills and fill the workforce needs in a community.
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