New Office Assistant Certificate Part of National Job Ready, Willing and Able Initiative

by Alana J. Mauger and Susan Williams

Montgomery County Community College is offering a twist to traditional workforce development with the introduction of its new Office Assistant Certificate this fall. The program—part of the national Job Ready, Willing and Able (JRWA) Initiative—provides built-in job placement assistance and a coach to guide students through the training and certificate completion.

The fall iteration of this 11-week program runs from Sept. 29 through Dec. 11. Classes are held Monday through Thursday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. Students are also required to attend six workshop sessions, which are held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, Oct. 28, Nov. 11 and Dec. 4, and from 9:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. The cost is $495, which includes instruction, workshops, course textbooks and Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam fees. To learn more or to apply, call 215-461-1468 or email JobTrakPA@mc3.edu.

Students enrolled in the Office Assistant Certificate Program will learn critical computer literacy and other skills expected by employers in business environments. Course modules include Business Software Essentials, Microsoft Word Applications and Modern Office Management.

“Local industry is in search of qualified office assistants,” said Suzanne Holloman, dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education. “This 135-hour certificate is laser-focused to train individuals who are unemployed for a middle-skills job.”

After completing the certificate, students may pursue the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam for Microsoft Word 2013. This sought-after credential provides students with marketable skills that will further increase their chances for employment. In addition, students who complete the certificate can apply the courses to the College’s Office Administration Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, office and administrative support occupations comprise one of the largest occupation groups in the Commonwealth. The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis projects 105 annual openings in this field in Montgomery County. Additionally, there is a growing need in the Montgomery County Region for general office clerks, with an expected 338 annual openings in the County and an estimated 14,620 total jobs in 2016.

Through JRWA, Montgomery  joins 17 other community colleges across the country in providing middle-skills training, industry recognized credentials, and access to employment across varying industry sectors for unemployed individuals. The initiative is funded by a three-year grant from the Walmart Foundation and is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Officials Sign First ‘Reverse Transfer’ Agreement Between Community College and State System Institutions in Commonwealth

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout and Kutztown University Acting President Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto sign the first reverse transfer agreement between a community college and State System institution in Pennsylvania. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen A. Stout and Kutztown University Acting President Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto sign the first reverse transfer agreement between a community college and State System institution in Pennsylvania. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College and Kutztown University (KU) signed a “reverse transfer” agreement on Aug. 20—the first agreement of its kind between a community college and a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (State System) university.

Under the new agreement, students who complete at least 15 credits at the College now have the opportunity to transfer credits they earn at Kutztown back to Montgomery in order to earn an associate’s degree in a parallel field en route to earning a bachelor’s degree.

According to President Dr. Karen A. Stout, the agreement builds on Montgomery’s strategic efforts to increase student access, progression and completion rates, and on work being done nationally to support community college degree completion.

“The associate’s degree has value and is an important credential for community college students,” said Dr. Stout. “By earning an associate’s degree, students demonstrate their ability to complete an area of study, which can help them in the job market or with career advancement while pursing their baccalaureate degree. While we encourage our students to earn their degree before transferring, it’s important for us to understand that our students take multiple pathways to complete their education.”

Close to 70 percent of the college’s students enter each year with the intention to transfer to a four-year institution, and Kutztown is a popular choice. In fact, last year, 182 of the College’s students transferred an average 44 credits to KU.

The institutions’ leaders envision that the new agreement will serve as a model partnership for Pennsylvania community colleges and State System institutions. MCCC and KU are not strangers to such innovation; in 2007, Montgomery became the first community college with which Kutztown signed a dual-admissions and core-to-core transfer agreement.

“Kutztown University is excited to once again partner with Montgomery County Community College in developing another program to benefit students of our region,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, KU’s acting president.  “Serving students is at the core of all that we do, and this is truly a student-centric program.”

Business Students Rank Eighth in National Competition

by Alana J. Mauger

PhiBetalogoBuilding on their success at Phi Beta Lambda’s (PBL) Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in the spring, Montgomery County Community College students Lindsey Montague, Wyncote, and Jacob Robertston, Malvern, gave a repeat performance on the national stage this summer.

Montague and Robertson, both members of the College’s PBL chapter, were awarded eighth place in the Business Decision Making competition at PBL’s National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tenn. in June. They qualified for the national competition by taking first place at the state level.

“This is a huge accomplishment for Lindsey and Jacob, who competed against students from four-year colleges and universities from across the country, many of whom recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees,” said Eileen Kearney, Assistant Professor of Marketing and PBL Advisor. “Their success speaks to the quality of education at Montgomery County Community College and the value of organizations like Phi Beta Lambda in preparing students for their careers after college.”

Montgomery County Community College student Ariel Mookherji, Plymouth Meeting, was also elected to the office of National Eastern Regional Vice President during the conference. Mookherji, who enrolled at the College to complete prerequisites toward an MBA in Marketing, previously served as the College’s PBL chapter president and as PA State vice president. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Design from Moore College of Art and Design, and she ultimately hopes to work at a marketing firm or with a non-profit organization.

Each year, thousands of students from across the country attend PBL’s National Leadership Conference. Along with the competitions, students attend workshops and business events during the conference.

Phi Beta Lambda is a student-led, collegiate-level organization of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). For more information, visit fbla-pbl.org.

Holds Open Houses for High-Demand JobTrakPA Career Programs

by Alana J. Mauger

JobTrakPA_logoMontgomery County Community College will hold open houses in Blue Bell and Pottstown for individuals interested in learning more about its high-demand JobTrakPA career programs. Fall programs include Wastewater Technician; Health Information Technology; Medical Billing and Coding; and Warehouse and Logistics.

The open houses will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Central Campus, Parkhouse Hall room 112, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, and on Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the West Campus, South Hall room 221, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.

JobTrakPA programs are funded in whole or in part by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor—Employment and Training Administration. The programs are designed to educate and train displaced workers in high-demand occupations. Deferred payment plans are available.

According to the U.S Department of Labor, 57 percent of workers in trade-related fields hold only a high school diploma or its equivalent, and close to 60 percent of Pennsylvania’s trade workers are between 40 and 60 years of age. Employers cite a critical shortage of qualified workers to fill jobs in the growing industries of advanced manufacturing, energy and health care technology.

For more information about JobTrakPA programs at Montgomery County Community College, visit mc3.edu/workforcedevelopment/jobtrak, call the JobTrakPA hotline at 215-461-1468 or email jobtrakpa@mc3.edu.

GIS Certificate of Completion: Cross-Industry Appeal in Competitive Job Market

by Alana J. Mauger

Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, has applications far beyond maps and geography.

Law enforcement, health care, urban planning, economics, environmental science, history, business, real estate and information technology—these are just some of the growing number of industries that incorporate GIS into their daily work.

In fact, according to Montgomery County Community College  Assistant Professor of Geography Samuel Wallace, virtually every field of study today uses some form of GIS, making knowledge of its use critical for students and employees across all disciplines.

“GIS requires people who have basic understanding of spatial relationships, along with the system software,” said Wallace.

Montgomery offers a nine-credit Certificate of Completion program in GIS that provides students with valuable skills that can lead to immediate employment in a GIS-related field. The program is ideal for current students, as well as for working individuals who want to add a GIS credential to their resume.

The College’s GIS program prepares students to operate industry leader ESRI’s ArcGIS 10.2 software. The Certificate of Completion is comprised of three courses: Introduction to Geographic Information, Map Design in GIS and GIS Applications. Courses are offered evenings to accommodate working adults, and the entire certificate can be completed in under a year.

The intro course, GEO 210, is being offered Thursday evenings this fall at the College’s West Campus, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. The next course, GEO 220, is tentatively scheduled to run at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, in spring 2015.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, GIS-related occupations are expected to grow by 20 percent overall through 2022—nine percent higher than the average occupation growth rate.

To learn more about GIS at Montgomery County Community College, email Assistant Professor Samuel Wallace at swallace@mc3.edu.

Fall semester classes at Montgomery County Community College begin on Aug. 27. Visit mc3.edu/fall2014 for registration information.

Popular ‘Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business’ Series Returns

by Alana J. Mauger

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn more about Montgomery County Community College’s  popular Starting a Successful Woman-Owned Business series during a free open house on Tuesday, Sept. 2, from 7-8 p.m. The open house will be held in Parkhouse Hall room 129 at the College’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell. RSVP to Marge Philippsen at 215-641-6374 or mphilipp@mc3.edu.

“Staring a Successful Woman-Owned Business” is a 12-week certificate program designed to encourage women to develop their business ideas into a roadmap for success. Taught by a successful woman entrepreneur, the program enables participants to get practical knowledge about what it takes to make it as a business owner while being exposed to subject-matter experts across a wide range of business topics. Participants will also go through a business planning process and will receive course certification upon successful completion of a business plan.

The fall installment of the biannual series begins Sept. 9 and continues on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 p.m. through Nov. 25. The cost, including textbooks, is $495.

To learn more, visit mc3.edu/academics, select Areas of Study, Business and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, then Career Training Programs.

College Hosts Employment Programs for Career Link, EARN

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College will host two upcoming programs as part of its Business Leadership Series for Pennsylvania Career Link and the Montgomery County Employment Advancement Retention Network (EARN).

Workshops on June 10 and 12 will focus on technology, manufacturing and service careers, while workshops on June 16 and 19 will focus on financial, insurance and service careers.

On June 10 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host an Employer Summit, during which human resources managers from technology companies will discuss their expectations of job applicants in the areas of computer science, information technology, management information services, digital design and computer graphics. The summit is ideal for participants seeking technical as well as non-technical occupations, including accountant, administrative assistant, customer service representative, technician and other office, technical, non-technical and entry level positions.  Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 12 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

On June 16 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a Financial Insurance and Service Summit, during which human resource managers will discuss their expectations of job applicants seeking employment with financial, insurance and service companies. Participants will also learn basics of what to do, and what not to do, when applying for a position.

On June 19 from 10 a.m.-noon, the College will host a hands-on workshop “How to Apply Online,” during which participants will learn how to navigate employers’ online application systems. Instruction includes how to post a resume and complete required testing, as well as information on testing strategies, test anxiety and stress.

The programs will be held at Montgomery’s Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell and will include networking opportunities and refreshments. The programs are free and are open to the public, but registration is required, as seating is limited. To register, contact Denise Garrigus at 215-619-7403 or dgarrigu@mc3.edu or Jennifer Kirkwood at 610-278-7289 or jkirkoo@montcopa.org.