Prisons, community colleges team up for classes

Capital News Service
LANSING – More community colleges are partnering with the Department of Corrections to educate inmates in hopes of boosting their chances success after release. Inmates qualified for college-level work are using prison classrooms typically used for substance abuse or GED preparation to further their education. Last fall, a pilot program was launched that offered Jackson Community College courses at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. Daniel Heyns, Corrections director, said, “The teachers enjoy doing it. The people that are enrolled are motivated students – I’ve heard it said even more motivated than free students.”
He said, “Maybe they value the opportunity a little more.”
Kevin Rose, who teaches computer courses and advises inmates through Jackson Community College, said, “The students were much more engaged and enthusiastic than what I would typically see.”
Rose said the prisoners have a greater appreciation for education than his average students.

Community colleges race to fill job skills gap

Capital News Service
LANSING – Students at Jackson Community College can now learn welding skills through two new programs.
Rebekah Woods, executive dean of instruction at the college, said the programs began because of a need in the area, but also across the country. Other community colleges around the state, including ones in Alpena, Grand Rapids and Centreville, are also initiating new programs to fill the needs of employers and students. According to the American Welding Society, the United States will experience a shortage of nearly 240,000 welders to meet industry demand by 2019. “Welders are highly specialized and have lots of career advancement opportunities,” said Woods. “Students can begin our manufacturing pathway with a foundational skill set that is designed to expose students to the process of welding.”
Woods said welding is used in a wide range of fields, such as automobile manufacturing and repair, appliances, ships and construction equipment.