Rockford area high schools will no longer be a place just to get a diploma. A new opportunity will start students on their careers. Students will get technical training at Rock Valley College while also going to high school.
This might remind people of the days of the old vocational center in Rockford decades ago. The idea is similar but the program called Advance Now offers students certification plus help earning a college degree.
"It would argument what is already going on in the high schools but primarily its a new opportunity for students to come to RVC learn a skill that when they graduate from high school they will have a marketable to get into the world of work," says Dr. Jack Becherer, Rock Valley College president
On top of that students who want to continue in college will be able to take the credits from Rock Valley and get an advanced degree somewhere else. The new program is put on through the Career Education Association of North Central Illinois (CEANCI). High school students in Winnebago, Boone and northern Ogle Counties can participate. That's 10 school districts. CEANCI will pay for the classes and transportation.
"Businesses for a number of years have said we need to have a better trained workforce. We need more students that are willing to become CNC operators, willing to be nurses in the hospital, willing to do automotive technician jobs and so on," says Dr. Dennis Harezlak, CEANCI board president.
RVC will offer nine different programs that include automotive service technology, aviation maintenance, manufacturing engineering technology, welding, emergency medical technician, fire science, health occupations including nursing assistant, accounting and graphic arts. School leaders say this training won't just help the students but also the community.
"We want all of our students focused on post-secondary education because that's where the jobs are and that's what going to create wealth for our community," says Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Rockford Public Schools incoming superintendent.
"Working with all the school districts to provide a better skilled workforce, more individuals who are willing to stay in this area, increase our skill level so business and industry is more willing to come to the Rockford area," says Dr. Harezlak.
Advance Now will accept 250 high school sophomores and juniors from the region for the next school year. Students interested should talk to their guidance counselors about signing up. Advance Now plans to accept students on a first-come, first-serve basis so students should make their interest known right away.
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