Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Board of Supervisors tours PHCC
Rich Wilcox (left) electronics instructor at Patrick Henry Community College, demonstrates how to use some of the equipment at one of the school’s electronics labs to members of the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday at PHCC. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Bridging skills gaps is how to grow jobs in this area, according to Patrick Henry Community College President Angeline Godwin, a former economic developer.
She made that comment during a continued/special meeting of the Henry County Board of Supervisors at the college Tuesday afternoon.
Godwin said she sees skills gaps in this area in three main areas: productivity, including skills to function well in the workplace, such as team-building and workplace etiquette; information technology, because workplace machinery has computer components; and technology and math, such as applied physics, hands-on manufacturing operator skills, and math training at least through geometry and trigonometry.
The college also wants the public “to leverage all the resources we have (at PHCC),” Godwin said.
The college offers 29 associate degree programs, 12 certificate programs and 38 career studies certificate programs, according to the PHCC website. The college also delivers a variety of nontraditional programs such as customized workforce development training, industry-recognized certifications, developmental and transitional programs, and courses for personal enrichment.
Godwin and other college officials said PHCC is well known among community colleges in Virginia and nationally in a number of areas, one of which is cooperative learning. With cooperative learning, students work together in small teams to accomplish a common learning goal. She also mentioned that the college has one of the strongest foundations among community colleges in Virginia, offering dozens of scholarships.
Godwin said she wants the supervisors and the public to help the college “identify and acquire what we don’t have that the community needs.”
Most of the more than two-hour meeting involved a tour of several college buildings and numerous labs, classrooms, programs and services. Among them were athletic and physical education facilities, electronics lab, electricity lab, industrial automation lab, HVAC and building trades facilities, nursing facilities, the administration of justice forensics lab, welding lab, the early childhood education lab and classroom, the computer aided drafting and design lab, the EMS lab, the Learning Resources Center and various support services. Supervisors also heard talks on a number of other programs and services, such as dual enrollment, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science, Middle College, Great Expectations and workforce development, among others. In touring the welding lab, Godwin pointed out the need for space, because of the popularity of the classes.
Among other things, Godwin also talked about efforts by PHCC to make college more affordable, her desire to increase the number of students at the college and the need for the college to be “low barrier” because workers today generally have to update their training throughout their careers. She also pointed out that college officials have spent significant time inventorying and assessing businesses/industries and their needs.
What did county officials “take home” from the meeting and tour?
Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams, who represents the Blackberry District, said, “I’m seeing some areas you’ve maybe heard about but not been able to visualize.” He also said the instruction, facilities and equipment at PHCC “are an investment not just in the college, but the community and its people.” The college is an integral part of economic development, he added.
County Administrator Tim Hall called PHCC “an absolute gem for the community.” He and some supervisors indicated that more needs to be done to let the public know what resources PHCC has to offer.
Hall also mentioned the economic impact the college has on the community. For example, PHCC athletics had an economic impact of more than $1.2 million in 2011-12, according to college officials.
Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant said he considers PHCC a backbone of the community, that it is well known in Virginia and nationally, and that more should be done to encourage students to get their training locally. He noted that students who want to go to four-year colleges could get their first two years at PHCC at a fraction of the cost of a four-year college, and then transfer.
Godwin said most jobs require more than a high school education but less than a bachelor’s degree.
Horsepasture District Supervisor Debra Buchanan, Iriswood District Supervisor Milton Kendall and Bryant said they were impressed by comments from Lloyd Cannaday, associate professor of architectural and engineering design, modeling and documentation at PHCC, who is trying to recruit students for the college’s computer aided drafting and design program.
The number of students in the program declined sharply in recent years as area industries closed, he said. PHCC has an excellent CADD program with great equipment, and well-paying jobs are available if people are willing to move to places such as Raleigh, Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C., he said, adding that there aren’t many drafting jobs available locally.
Ridgeway District Supervisor H.G. Vaughn said it had been a while since he had toured the college, and he was pleased to see how it has prospered. “The community should be proud of what we have here.”
Reed Creek District Supervisor Tommy Slaughter, who is vice chairman of the board, said Godwin is doing “a great job” of keeping the college in the forefront of the public’s mind. Kendall also praised Godwin for reaching out to the community, and Buchanan praised Godwin’s “excitement.”