By Rachelle Hughes
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–Southwest Tech’s open house drew hundreds of community members through its doors on Thursday, April 26 to get a glimpse into the technical college’s programs, strong sense of community collaboration, and job training.
With 21 different certificate opportunities in nine different certificate programs, concurrent enrollment for high school students, community classes and now a dual enrollment agreement with Southern Utah University, Southwest Tech is continually finding ways to leverage their educational mission. According to Southwest Tech, this open house was an invitation for community members from Iron, Garfield, Beaver and Kane counties to come tour their facility and learn more about the courses offered at the college as well as the scholarships that are available for their certificate programs. Visitors were also given a chance to try food prepared by their Culinary Art students.
“Each year the college continues to grow, but despite our growth there are a lot of people in the community that don’t understand the opportunities that technical education can provide,” said Southwest Tech President, Brennan Wood. “Nationally, there are millions of jobs in the trades that continue to go unfilled. We are exposing people to those types of trades.”
Certificate programs for trades include automotive, business, computer science, culinary, digital media, industrial, truck driving, and welding. The college also has several certificate programs for health professions including a practical nursing program that will start this August. Most of these programs are held in Southwest Tech’s two-story modern building on 757 West 800 South.
Many of the programs offered to adults are also available to high school students. The welding program, which offers three certification specialties, also has several concurrent classes available to high school students and had 250 high school students enrolled this past year. During the open house, visitors were able to get a hands-on experience in the welding shop if they wanted. Health professional courses in phlebotomy, Certified Nursing Assistant and Emergency Medical Technician are also available on a limited basis to high school students. In addition, courses in programming and within the industrial department are also available.
Southwest Tech’s educational partnership with the community goes way beyond working with high school students. Classrooms for community courses like marketing, computer and sales are set aside for ongoing community education, in addition to the specialized areas in the building for the college’s programs.
A vibrant culinary training program was also showcased during the open house as visitors were able to get free tastes of some of the student’s offerings. The students and teaching staff cooked for long lines of people during the open house. However, their training includes an open cafe throughout the week that offers lunch for anyone in the community looking for a gourmet meal at a good price. The students and instructors are used to cooking for crowds. The culinary program, like all the programs at Southwest Tech is hands on practical learning that prepares its students to tackle the trades with confidence.
Southwest Tech’s year-end total enrollment last year was 2,308 for their post-secondary and high school students. While Southwest Tech’s goal is to increase enrollment by 3 to 5 percent, Wood points out that their growth goals parallel industry demand for trade jobs. “More importantly than a percent in growth, is our goal to meet or match industry demand. We development a pipeline to fill available jobs. As one industry grows we increase our efforts in that market and vice versa as industry slows, we realign our pipeline or decrease our outcomes,” Wood said.
Southwest Tech’s importance in providing much needed training in our area was evidenced by the large turnout of visitors during the open house who asked questions, toured the classrooms and found out more about the opportunities to increase skill sets in our community.
To find out more about Southwest Technical College’s programs visit stech.edu.