The Parkland College Blog

Sizzlin' Summer Savings on Community Education Classes

Get 20% off on all Community Education classes July 14!

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Parkland College Community Education will be hosting a summer sale on their personal and professional development course offerings for one day only.

Members of the community can receive 20% off all Community Education classes on Wednesday, July 14, using the code SummerSave at checkout.

Visit parkland.edu/ceSummerSave to learn more about available classes, how to register, popular featured classes, and more.

Early College and Career Academy Debuts Construction Trades Program

ECCA to partner with local union for construction education

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High school juniors and seniors interested in construction careers can train directly with trade professionals in a new dual-credit pathway Parkland College is launching this fall.

Parkland's Early College and Career Academy will debut Construction Trades, the ninth pathway of the ECCA, which gives students skilled career training while still in high school.

The Construction Trades pathway will be a collaboration with the East Central Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council. Nick Elder, director of Education for Employment System No. 330 and ECCA coordinator, called the new pathway a true partnership between the local business community and the academy.

“Construction Trades will serve as a pipeline to fill the growing need for young people in the trade fields as the current workforce begins to age out,” Elder explained. "We're excited about the launch of this program."

Learning from this workforce, student participants will develop hands-on experience and knowledge about individual trades. They will spend three days per week on campus and two days off-campus in environments such as trade halls and professional sites.

"Not only will students be able to earn college credit for the courses they complete on campus, but they're also going to be able to form connections with professionals in the construction industry," Elder said.

Students will earn 10 Parkland College credits for completing the program, which prepares them to re-enroll after high school graduation to complete Parkland's Construction Management associate's degree. Moreover, they will be prepared to apply for an apprenticeship with a local trade union, according to Kevin Sage, business agent with Plumbers & Steamfitters LU No. 149.

"If students want to pursue a career in the building trades, this class is going to lead them right up to it," said Sage. "They'll know how to apply for apprenticeships, see the different opportunities out there, and know what trades would suit them best. I think it's going to be a real good thing for these kids to see."

Launched in November 2014, the Early College and Career Academy is a collaboration of the EFE No. 330 K-12 career and technical education cooperative and Parkland College. At the academy, high school juniors and seniors earn dual credit for courses in certain skill-based programs: Automotive, Computer Networking, Computer Programming, Construction Trades, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services (Health Professions or Fire Service focus), Certified Nursing Assistant, Industrial Technology, and Education Pathway. The academy benefits not only area students but also local businesses due to the increased skill level of the incoming workforce.

For more information about the ECCA Construction Trades program, contact Elder at nelder@efe.k12.il.us or 217/355-1382. Visit the ECCA page to learn more about the Early College and Career Academy. 

Parkland College, in collaboration with the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, the University of Illinois Research Park, regional manufacturers, and community partners, has submitted a bid to become the site of a $7.5 million manufacturing training academy through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Governor JB Pritzker announced the program in Champaign County in late October during a tour of local of manufacturers.

Focused on meeting the emerging training and workforce demands of Illinois manufacturers, the academy will leverage the assets of the Champaign-Urbana community to grow the manufacturing talent pipeline, provide hands-on training in advanced skills, and assist manufacturers from across the region in scaling emerging technologies. Training opportunities will include advanced skills in machining, robotics and programmable logic controllers (PLC), and advanced manufacturing in addition to the core elements of manufacturing already available, such as welding.

“Community colleges are vehicles and engines of economic growth and vitality for our communities and our state,” said Parkland president Dr. Thomas Ramage. “Parkland is well-positioned to be the site of this strategic investment due to the track record of success in scaling regional training programs like the Parkland Institute of Aviation, Ford ASSET program, and the Midwest Center for Precision Agriculture. Proximity to and collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ensures that the AMTA will continually have access to the innovations and technology that will shape the future of manufacturing.”

Laura Frerichs, Executive Director of the University of Illinois Research Park says she agrees that locating the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy in Champaign-Urbana would provide a strategic advantage to scaling new companies stemming from the latest research and development taking place at the University.

“One of the challenges of scaling a research and development startup company is the transition from prototype to scalable product,” said Frerichs. “While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has technologists to invent disruptive and innovative products, its spinout companies need makers to build them. This academy will provide startups with a workforce that can replicate products with quality standards and customer satisfaction in mind, using advanced techniques such as increased automation. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy project will fill a critical gap in our community and allow our companies to scale and grow right here in Illinois.”

Building the Workforce Pipeline Through Awareness

Another central focus of the AMTA will be cultivating a pipeline of students to meet the expanding high-tech workforce demands in Central Illinois. As part of the AMTA, an advanced manufacturing “maker space” will be developed as a vital outreach tool to engage K-12 students and promote advanced manufacturing career pathways.

Parkland’s long-standing partnership with Education for Employment (EFE) System #330 and regional school districts will enable collaborative recruitment efforts.

The college will also build on the strong network of community partnerships and recruitment activities developed through the college’s Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program funded by the Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant to reach underrepresented populations.

Whether or not the facility project is funded, Ramage says the college is committed to addressing the workforce pipeline.

“We are committed to continuing to serve manufacturers and help young people understand the rewarding, high-tech careers in manufacturing that exist locally and regionally,” said Ramage. “We don’t want individuals to miss out on the opportunities to pursue their goals and support their families because there is a lack of awareness of what it means to work in manufacturing.”

Meeting the Needs of Industry

The college will utilize a flexible training model to meet the needs of working students and employers, allowing them to access advanced training without the need to relocate. Ramage says that collaboration with the other community colleges in the region will be key and that the model opens opportunities for highly customized training and upskilling for the existing workforce as well as new students.

In order to design a comprehensive academy model that meets the needs of manufacturers, Parkland turned to local employers like Litania Sports Group to understand their needs for training as well as an expanded workforce pipeline.

“The prospect of having a Manufacturing Training Academy in our community is an investment in our regional workforce and a stabilizer for manufacturers in the area,” said Mary McGrew, VP of Human Resources at Litania Sports Group. “We struggle to find qualified workers to hold full-time jobs. We can send existing employees to the AMTA for skills enhancement to meet our changing technology. We can also work with the program to develop talent for students who want to start their career sooner, and less costly, than a four-year degree will allow. East central Illinois is home to some impressive manufacturing companies and the AMTA is a resource that can keep these companies competitive on a national level well into the future.”

The lessons learned from these focused conversations with employers provided some forecasting on future shifts in the industry and how workforce training will need to rise to meet that challenge.

“Manufacturing is a primary economic driver that requires responsive educational support,” said Dr. Justin Arnold, Director of Workforce Development for the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. “Parkland’s AMTA proposed project will ensure the workforce is ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Manufacturing has radically transformed over the past generation. We need Parkland’s AMTA to help employers train our workforce in automation, coding, robotics, and other advanced skills.”

The placement of the AMTA at Parkland College will also have a broader impact on the regional economy. “The proposed Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (AMTA) at Parkland College will expand opportunities for short- and long-term skills training, boost retention of manufacturers in our region, and attract more investment to Illinois,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

“Focused on meeting the emerging training and workforce demands of our area manufacturers, the academy will leverage the strong assets of the Champaign County region to grow the manufacturing talent pipeline, provide hands-on training in advanced skills, and assist manufacturers from across the region in scaling emerging technologies. We look forward to working with Parkland College and workforce development partners across the state of Illinois to encourage more people to explore the possibilities of modern manufacturing, gain the skills necessary for careers in the 21st century, and retrain workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State-of-the-Art Training Facility

If awarded, the Parkland Manufacturing Training Academy would be built as an expansion of the Parkhill Applied Technology Center, located on the northwest corner of the college’s campus. The Parkhill Applied Technology Center currently houses the college’s manufacturing and automotive programs, including an existing American Welding Society (AWS) Accredited Test Facility welding lab.

The 10,000 square foot AMTA, designed in collaboration with Urbana-based firm IGW Architecture, will include:

  • a robotics/programmable logic controllers (PLCs) lab outfitted with the latest technology and equipment

  • new tool and die training program and dedicated lab

  • two demonstration labs for both academic and community/youth programming, including the manufacturing “maker space”

  • newly equipped CNC machining lab to support advanced skills training

  • newly equipped CAD/CAM classroom

The college should learn later this spring whether it is awarded the grant and whether the facility project will move forward.

 

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Parkland College Summer Camp Registration Opens Feb. 15

College for Kids and Summer Discovery camps start in June

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Parkland College is once again hosting summer fun and learning opportunities for area youth, as registration opens for its 2021 College for Kids and Summer Discovery camps.

Registration begins Monday, February 15 for elementary, middle, and high school students. An early bird discount of $15 per registered class is available until March 12 for College for Kids.

Hosted by Parkland College Community Education, the popular two-week, half-day College for Kids camp offers around 50 different enrichment classes for students ages 7-13, with subjects ranging from robotics, coding, and engineering to visual, culinary, and performing arts.

The Summer Discovery program includes exciting camps for youth ages 10-18, designed to challenge students while they have fun. Students will explore new interests and potential careers in interactive, hands-on courses.

All classes are taught by professional educators in small class sizes, providing personalized attention for each student. The innovative STEAM-model gives students of all ages the opportunity to explore something new, get excited about learning, and discover new interests and hobbies in a safe and comfortable environment.

Camps will be offered in online and in-person formats. Social distancing guidelines and safety precautions established by the Center for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health will be observed in all on-campus classes.

Registrations are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Summer Discovery camps run for 1 or 2 weeks, depending on the camp, and usually meet from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. A few half-day options are available. Camps begin June 7 and run through July 30. Registration deadlines vary by camp.

Two sessions are offered for CFK: June 21–July 1 (Session I) with a registration deadline of June 7; and July 12–22 (Session II) with a registration deadline of June 28. CFK classes meet Monday through Thursday at 12:45 p.m.–2:45 p.m. and 3 p.m.–5 p.m.

Register at parkland.edu/ceRegister and browse by category Youth and College for Kids. Some scholarships and reduced rates are available for students who meet income eligibility for free/reduced lunch.

For more information about the College for Kids and Summer Discovery camps, please contact Community Education at communityeducation@parkland.edu, or by phone at 217/351-2235.

Parkland College Community Education and Giertz Gallery will be hosting a virtual art competition for District 505 youth ages 7-18.

The Celebrate the Arts! Youth Art Competition will run until Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Students have a chance to win full summer 2021 scholarships for either College for Kids Camp or a Summer Discovery Camp. Each of the three age categories will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, with honorable mentions.

"Giertz Gallery and Community Education are delighted to offer students the opportunity to partake in a virtual art contest and exhibit," said Terry Thies, Youth Program Manager of Community Education. "During a time when in-person participation with the arts is impacted due to the pandemic, we wanted to find a safe way to encourage students to continue creating, enjoying, and engaging with, art."

Selected works will be featured on Parkland's social media pages, and winners will be announced by Tuesday, March 9 at a Virtual Awards Ceremony.

Entries will be judged by Paula McCarty and Laura O'Donnell. Paula McCarty is the art exhibitions curator and designer for the Springer Cultural Center in Champaign, and teaches classes through Community Education. Laura O'Donnell teaches Art History at Eastern Illinois University.

A full list of rules can be found at parkland.edu/youthartcompetition. Questions about the contest can be directed to giertzgallery@parkland.edu.

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