Pasadena City College, as a member of the Pasadena Area Consortium, created 27 new noncredit adult education programs this fall after receiving a grant from the state for just over $1.5 million.
The state appropriated $500 million in the 2013-2014 budget through the AB 86 Adult Education Block Grant to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the California Department of Education to allocate funding for adult education. Of this, $1.5 million was allocated to the Pasadena Area Consortium—which consists of the Pasadena Area Community College District, Pasadena Unified School District, Arcadia Unified School District and Temple City Unified School District.
The grant funded the creation of free, noncredit courses beginning this fall in career technical education, English as a second language, workforce preparation for the developmentally disabled and elementary and secondary education – which includes GED courses and adult basic education courses.
All of the new program offerings are entry-level, with the main goal of either preparing students to transition to credit programs at PCC or into entry-level jobs.
Ofelia Arellano, dean of academic affairs, said that these noncredit courses are a starting point for adults in the community to start a new career path or build on prior experience.
“The big difference between noncredit and credit programs is that we design very basic introductory training for entry-level jobs,” said Arellano. “If you want the more advanced training, you come to credit.”
Catherine Cheng teaches the Basic Graphic Design CTE class, which consists of two, eight-week sections that cover everything from the history of graphic design to learning software programs used by working professionals. She has 13 years experience as a graphic designer, seven of which she spent working for PCC until she was offered a position teaching this fall.
“I’m basing my curriculum and my methods of teaching the way my favorite teacher taught me in college,” said Cheng. “Which is, you’re not only giving a lot of information from the book, you’re also giving them real life experience with real life jobs and projects so that way they can get, pretty much, my 15-year career condensed into 16 weeks.”
Cheng said that she has a wide variety of students with different backgrounds, experience levels and interests in her class and that the skills she teaches can be used to find entry-level work in graphic design – like freelance work, marketing and the growing field of online media.
Some of the programs cater to bilingual students, such as the VESL programs—or vocational English as a second language—by simultaneously teaching them occupational skills while also covering job-related vocabulary in fields such as childcare, housekeeping and construction.
Carolyn Corrie is an instructor for many of the VESL programs, including the new childcare program. She believes the VESL programs are a good opportunity for adults who have already taken ESL classes to improve their vocational vocabulary.
“I think that the VESL programs can work with people who already have some profession training in their countries but don’t have the appropriate English skills to really find those jobs here,” said Corrie.
The grant also pays for a job developer to work with partners in the community to help students connect with job prospects after finishing their programs.
The mission of California Community Colleges is not only to prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions or to teach them skills to enter into the work force, said Arellano, but to also “provide focused education for adults, as well as lifelong learning opportunities in noncredit programs.”
Currently, 3,168 students are enrolled for the fall 2015 noncredit courses, but the classes are “open entry, open exit”—meaning there is no cut-off date to enroll. There are also late start classes this fall that begin near the end of October.
You can find the noncredit program application online on the Community Education Center website.
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