(Holdrege, Neb.) – Central Community College-Holdrege has been selected for a pilot program designed to afford educational opportunities for working professionals, which ultimately aims to keep them in the area instead of moving to larger communities.
Through the blended business program, students will take two three-credit courses per semester, including the summer months. There are two components of the program, one is web-based and the other is in-classroom instruction. Students will meet one Saturday per month in two four-hour class sessions. If they keep on schedule, they could earn their associate’s degree in three or three-and-a-half years.
Bradley Keasling, associate dean of business and skilled and technical sciences, began formulating the blended business program one year ago in response to Holdrege area businesses asking for CCC’s help with employee retention.
“Becton Dickinson (BD), Allmand Brothers, Phelps Memorial Hospital and other area businesses were seeing their people leave to take other jobs because they didn’t have options for education to increase their skills or to earn a degree,” said Keasling. “BD, for example, is seeing a flux of people that might be leaving or staying stagnant in one area because they can’t become a team leader because they don’t have the credentials from a higher educational institution.”
Another unique aspect of the business blended program is that the curriculum is designed for students to learn real-life concepts in a cohort or cadre group setting.
“It’s not that they’re going to sit there and just lecture, lecture, lecture for eight hours in a day,” said Keasling. “The students should ask themselves: ‘What are those real-life scenarios that we can help each other with?’ The hope is that they stick together and hold each other accountable.”
The advisory committee for the program includes individuals from economic development, the chamber of commerce and human resources.
“What we have in that group are some great people who really believe in the Holdrege area as a community and are anxious to continue that momentum,” said Keasling.
In particular, Keasling credits Diana Watson, who leads the Holdrege Center, and Elena Olson King, learning center manager, for getting all of the people on the advisory committee together.
“Both of those ladies over there love the Holdrege community, know the community and have really been reaching out,” said Keasling. “They understand that the economic environment in the Holdrege area is awesome, except for people leaving and we don’t want that.”
The program will be evaluated after one year. If it is successful, then it could be implemented at another CCC center in the fall 2020 semester.
“I would love to throw it out into the Lexington area,” said Keasling. “I’ve already kind of been talking with the Lexington Center and they’re always willing to look at other opportunities of what we can do to grow.”