We agree with the Illinois Community College Board, in that it “envisions Adult Education as the foundation of a career pathways system that prepares adult learners for economic self- sufficiency” (ICCB, 2009, p. 8). We are committed to providing opportunities for adults in the Rockford Region to address both adult secondary education and certificates leading to gainful employment.
The Integrated Career and Academic Preparedness System (ICAPS), an Accelerating Opportunities Initiative, seeks to address the needs of the adults in our community who are in need of a high school diploma. Recognizing that by 2018, two-thirds of the job opportunities will require some level of postsecondary education, it seeks to provide an opportunity for skill attainment. The ICAPS program includes dual enrollment in Adult Education and Career and Technical Education courses, leading to completion of the high school equivalency (GED), an institutional certificate, and at least one industry certification. Each program includes a pathway for students to continue their education, leading to a degree.
In addition to the unique programming offerings, intense support services are offered to ensure students have the tools needed to complete their studies and be successful in the workforce. A career navigator works with each student, assisting the student with any obstacles that arise.
The first ICAPS program to be designed is the ICAPS in CNC Career Pathways. This program leads to two institutional certificates: 1) Certified Manufacturing Associate, and 2) CNC. It also leads to three National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials: 1) Measurement, Materials & Safety, 2) Lathe Operator I, and 3) Mill Operator I.
Students will have the opportunity to continue their studies, in order to earn a degree in Associates of Applied Science in Manufacturing Engineering Technology. They will then be prepared to pursue a career of production manager, CAD/CAE/CAM designer or programmer, or tool designer.
Upon completion of this program, students will be ready for entry level positions in the manufacturing field, an industry that is growing in our area, such as CNC operator, CNC machinist, and setup.
Recognizing that this model allows us to assist our community with both education and jobs, we are currently looking to develop additional programs. We have begun the development of a program in healthcare, which would provide an opportunity for adults to pursue a CNA Plus certificate. Students completing this program will receive an institutional certificate, as well as the industry credential of Nursing Assistant, once their exams are passed. This will also lead to opportunities for additional stackable credentials, beginning with the LPN, leading to the RN.
Through conversations with our region’s businesses, we have also determined a need to develop curriculum around Cold Forming. We have begun to do research to determine a field of study that would allow us to address this need through an ICAPS program.