It may be one of Sedalia’s best-kept secrets for students, but for local businesses and industries it may best be described as a wealth of skilled employees.
The Career and Technical Center at State Fair Community College provides an opportunity for high school students to receive state-of-the-art learning and training in nine programs: automotive service technology, building trades, early childhood careers, electrical and power, graphic design, health occupations, machine tool, welding, and alternative education, all while the students are in high school.
“The college feels that we have an obligation to the community to provide a well-trained work force to the businesses and industries that are in our area,” CTC Executive Director Michael Wright said. “We also realize that we have an obligation to our students to help them learn a trade and the skills necessary to be able to apply and find positions in today’s highly competitive work force.
“We want to be in partnership with the industries and have our graduates be workforce ready upon the completion of their program here,” he added. “We want to be the source for a qualified workforce in the community.”
SFCC’s CTC program is unique in that it is one of only four schools in the state that is affiliated with a community college. Crowder, Jefferson and Ozark Technical School are the other community college programs.
State Fair’s program is funded in part through the Carl Perkins Act, a federal program design to enhance career education in the state.
“Each district is allocated an amount of money based on the demographics of the school district,” Wright said. “The smaller districts get a smaller piece of the pie, but what the area schools have done is they have all banded together to bring the program and the students to SFCC.
“What it actually does is it allows them to leverage their funds and those are shared with the college to create a state-of-the-art facility that benefits both the high school students and the college’s students as well,” he added. “All of the students who participate in the CTC program are receiving first-class training with state-of-the-art technology and equipment.”
Funding for the program is also from Department of Elementary and Secondary grants and the sending schools.
Wright explained that the program reports to both SFCC and the 11 area high schools that have students enrolled in the program.
“The superintendents from our sending schools (Cole Camp, Green Ridge, La Monte, Lincoln, Northwest, Otterville, Sacred Heart, Smith-Cotton, Smithton, Tipton and Warsaw) and representatives from SFCC are who we report to,” Wright said. “They make recommendations to us as to what they feel is in the best interest for their students.
“We don’t just add programs to be adding things,” he added. “We focus on developing programs that are centered on what the job market is seeking in employees.”
The high school program has 240 students, which is up from previous years, enrolled in the two sessions offered by State Fair.
Smith-Cotton sends 80 students to the morning session with Northwest and La Monte also attending that session. The remaining students attend the afternoon session. Each session meets for two and a half hours.
Wright commented the CTC program focused on two goals for high school students.
“First we want to help the students learn a trade or a skill,” Wright said. “Along with that we want to present them with the knowledge in how to apply for a job and what is required in that process. Second, we want to help them broaden their experiences and hopefully encourage them to further their education.”
Wright said the department hopes to continue to offer more programs but space is a consideration. The Fielding Technical Center was constructed in 1978, with the addition of the CTC facilities in 1989.
“A number of our high school students who leave the program with an industry-ready, work-ready certificate when they graduate from high school want to continue with their post-secondary education,” he added. “We want to continue to offer additional training to them but we need room to stretch and grow.”
State Fair President Dr. Joanna Anderson commented on the importance of the CTC program at the college.
“Almost half our students choose a career or technical program, and many start out in the SFCTC, which allows them to earn credit toward high-skill degrees at SFCC and get good-paying jobs right here in our community,” Anderson said via email. “The college’s campus master plan completed last year identified a new career and technical education facility as a top priority. As a result, we are focused on building a new facility to meet the space needs of many of our programs, including welding, automotive technology, industrial technology, and our hands-on skills labs, and to offer new programs like agriculture mechanics and diesel mechanics.
“Trustees are considering funding options for moving that priority forward,” Anderson added. “A recent telephone survey of 400 voters in Pettis and Benton counties found that a majority of respondents would support a potential tax increase to fund the plans being considered. Our goal is to provide the best educational experience for our students and, in turn, a highly skilled workforce for employers in high-paying, high-demand fields.”
In upcoming editions, the Democrat will focus on each of the programs offered by the CTC and their role in Sedalia’s workforce.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.