QUINCY – In her effort to better educate the state’s workforce, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited John Wood Community College today to learn how two new “career ladder” programs may help Quincy-area students earn more associate’s degrees.
Students who enroll in the new programs earn three college certificates while working their way up the ladder to an associate’s degree. The success milestones are designed to compel students who are balancing work and school to complete a degree appropriate for a highly skilled, good-paying job. Research shows that students who complete certificate programs of one year or more, or who hold associate’s degrees, earn better wages than students with less education.
“If Illinois is going to lead the nation in college degree and certificate completion, we need to provide students clear pathways to success,” Simon said during her afternoon visit. “Laddered degree programs can provide an affordable and efficient option for students who are already working, as they seek a degree that will lead to a job promotion or higher wage.”
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 barriers to the state goal.
John Wood currently offers stackable certificates in the Landscape and Turfgrass Management program and Construction Management laddered certificates will be offered for the first time this spring. Often work done in the first certificate program reduces the amount of hours needed to complete the second and third certificates in the sequence.
“A ladder approach is nothing more than getting a ‘rung up’ in life: quickly gaining skills and knowledge to get a job, then return for the next rung to gain credentials to move up the career ladder. Each step up builds upon what the student has already mastered,” Dr. Tom Klincar, John Wood Community College President, said. “Certificates are short-term, affordable and build students’ confidence. Before they know it, they’ll have earned a degree and the increased pay that goes along with it. That’s what John Wood is about – offering programs that fit students’ needs, not programs that interrupt their lives.”
John Wood Community College was Simon’s 26th stop on the tour.