ICC Program Helps ‘JumpStart’ Careers

Individuals who desire a pathway to a better future can take advantage of Itawamba Community College’s new Jumpstart program offered at the Belden Center.

The initiative connects Workforce Investment Act counselors to the Adult Basic Education program to enable participants to acquire job readiness skills as well as work toward the high school completion credential.

Through the services of the Skills Center, the Jumpstart program provides assistance with earning the high school equivalency certificate; refreshing academic, technology and other necessary skills for employment; creating a resume and improving job interview skills; connecting with counselors to determine a career path; and qualifying for college tuition assistance.

Those who enroll in the five-week program basically have three options, according to Julia Houston, ABE/GED/ESL program director.

The Counseling to Career pathway, which serves students age 21 and under who may or may not have a high school credential, offers an opportunity for work experience upon completion of the Jumpstart program. Participants utilize the schedule for education, work-readiness and necessary skills activities to enter the workforce, college or military. C2C pathway participants also may earn $100 upon passing the GED during their five-week term.

The ABE plus is another pathway for those who are 22 and older to build their education, work-readiness and necessary skills to enter or improve their employment opportunities and earn financial assistance to attend college.

The third pathway through the Skills Center Jumpstart program is On-the-Job Training. It is designed to utilize the Jumpstart schedule to prepare participants to enter the workforce with an additional opportunity to obtain OJT funds upon successful completion of required courses and activities.

The Jumpstart program operates on a continuous five-week schedule with participants attending the activities that are part of the pathway they are pursuing, Houston said. WIA counselors provide individual assistance in choosing the pathway that is the best fit. “The key to success is providing students with a schedule that has success, credentials and educational advancement built into each week’s activities. Those who commit and participate in the program are set up for success.”

Houston said that all components of the Jumpstart program are designed to promote and develop behaviors that will benefit participants, both in education and work environments. Respect for the institution, the community and everyone involved in the program is one of the most important components emphasized throughout the program.

Classes meet weekdays from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Belden Center, but are also offered on a rotating basis at the WIN Job Centers in Amory, Houston and Pontotoc. New students begin their first day of the program every Monday morning at the Belden Center after completing the preregistration process the Monday or Tuesday of the prior week. Houston said that one of the most important parts of the preregistration process is the counseling provided before or after participants are assessed regarding skills levels and areas which need improvement. “The individual counseling that participants receive each week is truly the most significant component of the program,” Houston said.

The first item on the schedule each day for all students and staff is the morning motivation, which Houston said is a time to provide both encouragement as well as necessary announcements. “We invite all ICC employees to participate in these sessions so that students have an opportunity to meet lots of ICC faces. We want them to know that all of ICC is concerned about their progress and success.”

Students receive incentives throughout the five-week program to acknowledge their successes and persistence as well as to encourage them to complete. On their last day of the five-week program, participants present a culmination of their achievements to the other students and members of the staff. Written and oral presentations as well as visual media and other projects are components of the final presentation. “ICC takes pride in all of our students, and we take time to acknowledge their success as they move through the program,” Houston said.

‘We are the builders of your skills,” Houston told the participants recently. “If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

For more information on ICC’s Jumpstart program, call (662) 407-1510.

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