MATTOON – Continuing her Complete College Tour, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited Lake Land College today to hear how the school is working to raise completion rates and connect students to the workforce.
Simon announced earlier this year that Illinois leaders want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. As the Governor’s point person on education reform, she is touring the state’s 48 community colleges to see completion efforts at each campus, while also compiling ideas to overcome the barriers to each college’s completion goals.
“We need to improve our higher education system today so that the next generation of students can graduate on time, with less debt and ready to fill the jobs of tomorrow,” Simon said, after holding a roundtable discussion with administrators, faculty and students.
During the visit, Lake Land College illustrated how students are being prepared for jobs of the future. Thanks to recent grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, Lake Land is providing non-traditional students hands-on experience in retrofitting buildings for solar and wind power and smart grid technologies.
Students that participate in the Community-Based Job Training Grant program are currently unemployed or dislocated workers. The school anticipates training 700 participants, about 90 percent of which will enter the workforce in green technology jobs upon completion, said Scott Lensink, Lake Land College President.
Lake Land also offers online and distance education courses, as well as on-campus childcare services, to better serve its students’ needs for course accessibility and foster an environment of completion importance and success. Various articulation agreements also allow students to seamlessly transition to four-year institutions should they want to pursue a higher degree in their field. For example, Lake Land has a unique agreement with the University of Illinois at Springfield that allows a student to complete a liberal studies bachelor’s degree online, thus allowing them to reach their goals while keeping family and work obligations.
“As a community college, Lake Land has always been responsive to the needs of our region’s businesses, the incumbent workforce, and those who find themselves unemployed,” Lensink said. “As we continue to develop courses, short-term training opportunities, and degree programs, we are fortunate to offer students a living laboratory for sustainability right here on campus.”
Lake Land College was the 25th stop on Simon’s Complete College Tour.