Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TOP STORY >> New director for WAGE

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s adult-education center has a new leader in WAGE (Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy) instructor Simone Brock, who wants to see growth and increased awareness.

The center is located at 104 N. First St. She’s been on the job for two weeks.

Formerly a middle school teacher, Brock moved from Dallas for a slower-paced lifestyle. She also has family here.

About adult education, the instructor said it’s new to her, but interesting. “I think it’s probably underutilized and not as well known as it should be...It’s kind of a secret, I guess. So, it’s a free service. I mean, all it does is help you improve. So it’s kind of a win-win for anyone who wants to partake in it.”

Brock said the center has three teachers. Through state funds, it offers GED classes, computer literacy classes, six certificates through the WAGE program and national career readiness certificates.

The WAGE certificates are earned in employability, customer service one and two, bank teller, industrial and office technology.

The year-round center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and also from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, with no set schedule for classes, as many enrolled have job schedules that come first.

All of the center’s offerings help people gain entry into the workforce, Brock continued.

“Many of these people who are coming here are looking to either get off of services and get into the job force or to improve their job skills, and, you know, grow in their job,” she explained. “So, it’s about growth for the people, educational growth, helping with the economy.”

The instructor added that she’d tell those who are considering enrolling, “It’s education. You’re learning something. If you already know that skill, there are other skills that we could challenge you with...There’s no investment except in yourself, so why not?”

Brock also said the center has partnerships with several local businesses.

In her short time there, she has learned the students are of all ages, with younger adults making up much of the enrollment in GED classes, but middle-aged adults and seniors taking advantage of WAGE.

Many are of a low socio-economic status, although all are welcome. Brock noted that her husband is now attending classes to sharpen his computer skills.

She has already met with the mayor about spreading the word on what the center offers. An open house is being planned, too.

Brock also noted that she’d heard students say some of the technology they’re using in the center’s classes is outdated, compared to what employers have.

She would like to see newer technology that would make the skills students gain at the center more transferrable.