NEW TRAC-7 WEBSITE OFFERS CAREER TRAINING CREDENTIAL INFORMATION
Partnership program for skilled workforce involves GCCC and six other educational institutions
A new website that outlines opportunities in a series of career fields has been launched by TRAC-7, a consortium of educational institutions working to provide industry-recognized credentials for Kansas workers.
The consortium, which includes Garden City Community College, opened the website this week at www.trac7.org. It is designed as a way of engaging potential students in the group’s seven career training opportunities, including a GCCC-based Food Science Program for men and women who want to work in the fast-growing food safety industry.
The consortium, coordinated by the Technical Institute at Washburn University, Topeka, includes five other Kansas community colleges as well as GCCC. The seven programs were made possible by a $19.6 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U.S. Labor Department. The TRAC-7 name refers to the seven institutions and the acronym, Technical Retraining to Achieve Credentials.
GCCC is developing the food safety and inspection component with a $1.7 million share of the grant. The training will expand on GCCC’s existing Food Science-Meat Science Program.
HUB FOR CAREER PROGRAM INFORMATION
The new website will serve as a hub in directing visitors to the signature programs of the participating institutions, according to Gloria Comfort, TRAC-7 project manager. She said TRAC-7 would continually update and improve the website as the programs are further developed.
In addition to the GCCC-based program, others include Advanced Systems Technology, operated by Washburn; Electrical Power Transmission, based at Dodge City Community College; Power Plant Technology, Flint Hills Technical College, Emporia; Environmental Technology, Salina Area Technical College; Agri-Biotechnology, Cloud County Community College, Concordia; and Risk Management, Highland Community College.
The grant program is designed to support the collaborative efforts of the participating colleges to provide Kansas workers with academic and industry-recognized credentials and training necessary to meet the need for a skilled workforce, according to the project manager.
Features of the TRAC-7 website include a simple design; a feature story section with updates, pictures and summaries; and a signature programs page that offers individual program summaries, as well as links to each institution’s program page. There is also a contact page that allows visitors to ask questions or make comments. Other elements include a brief summary of the TRAC-7 program, listing the partner institutions, businesses and stakeholders.
“The use of social media has been adopted to better promote programs and allow staff to share information with students, friends and colleagues across the state,” Comfort said. She added that TRAC-7 used a responsive design, enabling effective access from smart phones, as well as tablet, laptop and desktop computers.
PROGRAM AT GCCC
Based at the John Collins Technical Building on the Garden City campus, the GCCC signature program isexpanding the capacity of the Food and Animal Science Program, through enhanced facilities and a redesigned curriculum that includes stackable credentials and a career pathway to increase access.
“This will meet the growing need for credentialed personnel in the field of meat and food safety inspection,” said Dr. Lenora Cook, GCCC dean of technical education. “Our program will train workers to serve in the inspection of restaurants, meat packing and food processing plants, cafeterias and other facilities that provide food to the public.”
The demand for inspection services is increasing because of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which became law last January. The measure gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to order food product recalls, requires greater frequency of inspections and focuses those inspections on potential risk.
It also stipulates that food processing facilities write and follow food safety plans, in addition to addressing natural and man-made risks to the safety of fresh products.
The law boosts the need for additional USDA inspectors, according to Clint Alexander, GCCC animal science instructor and meats team coach, and requires a better understanding of food safety requirements on the part of operators and employees in restaurants, cafeterias and related facilities.
Major components of the GCCC program include:
• A 50-55-foot semi-trailer based mobile classroom with pull-out sides, Internet access and numerous instructional computers, which can provide on-site training at various locations.
• Improvements at the John Collins Vocational Collins Building, ranging from lab and classroom renovation and expansion to a walk-in cooler.
• The addition of two full-time personnel, including an instructor and a technical education case manager.
The project will also provide a refrigerated van for safe meat transportation, cutting tables, a packager, meat smoker, interactive whiteboards, laptop computers, carts, and extensive instructional computer hardware and software.
“We’ll be able to take the training trailer anywhere in Kansas, as well as neighboring states,” Cook explained. “That’s important because when you have the entire staff of a restaurant or a food processing facility in need of training, the classroom can literally go to them.”
In addition to visiting trac7.org, individuals interested in the program may contact Cook firstname.lastname@example.org or 620-276-9521.