In 2010, we grew tired of hearing constant complaints from the manufacturing community about the coursework offered by Holmes Community College with regard to manufacturing processes, just when a great many people needed work. At that point, it seemed as simple as a phone call: talk to Holmes, and fix the problem. It is, however, much more complicated than that.
GCF does not have much money; what we have tried to do is use our ingenuity and persistence to bring groups together to address community issues, and this was clearly one that needed to be considered carefully. In our own small way, we made progress. Here is what we did:
- We brought certain manufacturers to Holmes to review the manufacturing employability course curriculum. It was adjusted to reflect some basic skills that seemed to be chronically lacking among those hired by the manufacturers. Done? No.
- We then brought WIN Job Center into the collaboration, to screen for employees with the basic math skills required, as the employers felt many employees did not have the necessary 8th grade math skills. Done? No.
- GCF then became a principal in the collaboration, and ran a fundraising campaign to raise funds to provide a $100 stipend to each student in a total of 4 classes who successfully completed the course, to defray the cost of gas and childcare. Done? No.
- GCF monitored the rate at which course graduates were hired and it was very slow. We asked the manaufacturers to examine why this was so. They responded that the screening had not included desire to work in nor aptitude for manufacturing. So back we went to WIN Job Center to ask them to adjust the screening for the next class. They did so, and had to search long and hard to find enough candidates, but they did and this next group graduated, they were all hired. Done? No.
- What happened to those who tried but were not deemed eligible for the course? Grenada’s fantastic GLAD team was there to catch many of them, and help them gain more education. What did they need? Help with their GED test fees. So we commenced another fundraising campaign and raised funds to provide GED Test Fee Scholarships.
For many, it takes a great deal of courage to go back to school, and we are extremely touched that each and every recipient to this day sends the GCF board a personal thank you note, in which the common theme is that we believed in them when no one else did, and that was very motivating for them.