Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE) is a new program offered through Arkansas Northeastern College Adult education department.
The WAGE classes are held at the ANC Burdette Center and taught by Sue Puckett.
The program is free. It is geared for persons 18 years and older not enrolled in high school or college who are unemployed or under-employed.
Beth Thompson, ANC adult education coordinator and Murelene Walker, coordinator for WAGE have been working on the program for about a year gathering information on what local businesses and industries are looking for in their employees.
The WAGE program is a partnership among local businesses, industries, and community providers to help entry-level employees increase their skills and abilities to meet the demands of the local job market.
"The WAGE program is an open entry and an open exit," Walker said. "All of our adult education is individualized. Adults start work on individual academic needs."
After May 12 summer hours will begin and the WAGE classes will be held Monday through Wednesday.
The WAGE program offers three certificates including Employability, Clerical and Industrial.
The WAGE Employability Certificate requirements include obtaining 7.0 grade level in math, reading, and language; making 85 percent or better in computer literacy; job readiness skills including workplace ethics, preparing a current resume, and manufacturing/dexterity skills.
The Clerical and Industrial Certificates meet the state requirements.
The Clerical Certificate requirements include obtaining a 12.9 grade level in math, reading, and language; make 100 percent on the WAGE post-test; type 45 words per minutes; learn to use Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel; Complete Word and Excel Projects; pass clerical tests; acquire customer service knowledge, telephone etiquette, counting money and advanced ethics.
The Industrial requirements for certification is obtaining a 12.9 grade level in math, reading, and language; making 100 percent on the WAGE post-test; passing additional manual dexterity test; passing mechanical aptitude and spatial relations tests; completing manufacturing modules; additional competencies identified by the local WAGE Advisory Committee.
Adults who do not have a high school diploma or GED can work on their GED certification simultaneously with the WAGE program.
The program is new at ANC and Walker estimated the time to complete the first certification, WAGE Employability, could take approximately 40 hours over two weeks. To acquire the other two WAGE certifications will take longer.
Through the program, participants will have the opportunity to increase reading, math and communication skills, learn basic computer skills, practice keyboarding, test proficiency at Microsoft Office programs, and increase employability skills.
"The WAGE program will be beneficial to help workers at entry level jobs as well as assisting people in receiving the skills needed for promotions within their current jobs," Thompson said.
Thompson said students are very fortunate to have Puckett as instructor. Puckett has a BS Degree in business education from Mississippi State University and a M.S. Ed. Degree in Adult Education from the University of Arkansas. She has secretarial experience at the Mississippi State University, Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Science for four years; Bentley Rhodes Insurance in Bassett for one year and First Baptist Church in Wilson for 12 years.
Walker has a degree in elementary education and as Masters Degree in Vocational Technical Administration.
Both have experience in the workforce.
Thompson said the WAGE program is a state program developed in 1992 in Little Rock. "We are seeing more industry locate in Mississippi County and the surrounding areas and this program will help provide the skilled, trained employees needed," Thompson said.