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ACT Center is established at SU to provide resources for training and development of state’s workforce
ACT Center is established at SU to provide resources for training and development of state’s workforceOctober 31, 2001Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Syracuse University has established New York state?s first ACT Center to provide convenient and cost-effective resources for the training and development of the state?s workforce. SU?s ACT Center is the 28th ACT Center in the nation, but the first at a university. Through computers, the Internet and other technologies, ACT Centers provide state-of-the-art testing and training programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. The announcement was made Oct. 26 at the LaFayette Country Club.
“The way Syracuse uses community partnerships makes it a role model for other ACT Centers around the nation,” says Doyle Young, vice president of Workforce Delivery Services at ACT.
“It is yet another dimension of our leadership endeavors to contribute to the regional economy,” Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw says. “This ACT Center uniquely serves job seekers and those already in the work force. What makes our ACT Center different is that it will spur the formation of `learning communities? around the state. These will be SU?s partnerships with businesses, education institutions and other organizations, plus a select group of consultants.”
Directing this endeavor is Dana B. Hart, director of the Leadership Institute for Applied Research in Change at University College. Consistent with SU?s mission, the ACT Center is the focus of formal research on methods for effective workplace training and factors that contribute to successful learning communities. Hart will publish the studies? results and make conference presentations.
“Our ACT Center partnerships can be a great asset for employees and employers statewide who will benefit from the latest training programs and methods, including e-learning blended with classroom-based learning,” Chancellor Shaw says. “People can boost their skills to qualify for better jobs. Employers can use the assessment and training programs to hire and develop their workers plus raise productivity, morale and profits.”
“With ACT, we can offer a nice potpourri of tools,” Hart says. SU?s ACT Center is linked to the ACT Learning Manager, a unique knowledge management platform that helps companies monitor the training activities of employees. It offers access to more than 1,100 server- and Web-based training courses and integrates seamlessly with existing data management applications. So far, topical areas in the expanding course inventory include adult literacy, computer basics, industrial technology/safety, information technology, management/leadership and personal development.
“Syracuse University is a pioneer in workforce development,” ACT?s Young says. “SU has successfully used ACT?s WorkKeys system to enhance the workforce in central New York. Now, the ACT Center will make that mission even stronger by providing top-notch computerized training and testing in a vast array of topics.”
“Our concept of self-grown learning communities could be replicated by other ACT Centers,” says Charles K. Barletta, interim dean of University College. This concept evolves from the “community adoption model” coined by Scott Shablak, assistant dean for professional development in the School of Education, and Thomas Hadlick, director of the Central New York WorkKeys Service Center. Housed at the School of Education since 1998, WorkKeys is a comprehensive employability skills assessment tool designed to help individuals develop improved workplace skills. It contributes to “Vision 2010,” the Metropolitan Development Association?s regional economic blueprint and enables workers to focus their training on undeveloped skills, thus saving time and money.
SU?s ACT Center?developed in conjunction with ACT Inc., that is best known for its college entrance examination?is part of a nationwide network of centers, most at community colleges, that provide these services:
? Workplace skills assessments;
? Continuing education courses in a broad array of disciplines;
? Skill-specific training in selected fields;
? Distance learning with state-of-the-art technology;
? Computer-delivered certification and licensure tests for the trades and professions; and
? On-demand learning opportunities for individuals or groups.
SU?s learning community partners will be offered these services: ACT?s WorkKeys, ACT?s High-Stakes Testing Center for professional and technical certification, and ACT educational courses plus course development with Syrtis, SU?s e-learning architects for use by ACT; and support in grant writing and evaluation with SU?s Leadership Institute. According to Hart, the training consultant partners are key to blended learning by providing direct learner-teacher interaction in a classroom to complement e-learning.
Besides the ACT Center, this year SU has launched four bachelor of professional studies degree programs, Syrtis Technology-enhanced Instructional Solutions and the Leadership Institute on Applied Research in Change?all at University College. “All these ventures are aimed at matching education to the needs of employers for workforce skills and competencies. This emphasis on employment-based education reflects new sophistication in testing and needs-analysis and goes hand-in-hand with traditional scholarship,” Shaw said.
The venue for the Oct. 26 announcement was symbolic. First, the off-campus hilltop site (Lafayette Country Club) overlooking Central New York symbolizes the fact that SU?s ACT Center is accessible from anywhere through new distance education technologies. Second, the event?with the theme “Building and Sustaining Learning Communities with E-Learning”?symbolizes SU partnering with Partners for Education and Business Inc. to announce this new resource to more than 200 representatives of schools, post-secondary institutions, businesses, employers, government agencies and community representatives who share a commitment to assure CNY?s education quality and economic vitality.
ACT studies point to an aging and increasingly diverse workforce, divided along economic lines, and unprepared for burgeoning technology in the workplace, reported Donald J. Carstensen, ACT vice president of educational services, at SU?s June 4 Workforce Education and Training Day. There is a high demand for employees with technical skills and much lower levels of interest in those fields by high school seniors, but a growing division between income for skilled and unskilled workers. “Clearly there has to be some way to help people think about the options in terms of opportunities available,” he says.