March 05, 2007

SIUC-sponsored event will help TUMS workers

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. — An event sponsored by Southern Illinois University Carbondale to help Technical Universal Media Services workers learn about new career options will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17, in the practice gymnasium of Pinckneyville Community High School, 600 E. Water St.

More than 400 people will lose their jobs when the Pinckneyville plant closes later this month.

Called the Technical College Opportunity Fair, it resembles one put on by SIUC's Department of Workforce Education and Development in Herrin last fall for displaced Maytag employees.

"Community colleges, universities and departments within those universities will have tables with information about the educational opportunities in Southern Illinois," said workforce education department chairman C. Keith Waugh.

"We had approximately 300 people show up (at the earlier event), and from all accounts, it was a huge success."

SIUC, for one, has plenty to offer in terms of retraining, Waugh said.

"Our undergraduate program, for example, is designed for the non-traditional, working adult and for people with considerable work experience, so folks don't feel out of place surrounded by 19-year-olds —the average age is 35," he pointed out.

"We give credit for work experience and training that they may have. If they have an associate degree, they're eligible for the Capstone Option (an SIUC initiative that makes it possible for such students to earn an undergraduate degree by completing 60 more hours), so they may be only a year or two away from a bachelor's degree."

The community workshops fit well with SIUC's mission, recently re-emphasized by SIU President Glenn Poshard, Waugh noted.

"Southern Illinois University has a long and proud history providing hope and opportunity to those seeking higher education," Waugh said.

"The Department of Workforce Education and Development, in particular, has extended itself well beyond the borders of the Carbondale campus to provide opportunities to those persons, wherever they may be, seeking to further their education.

"More than 20,000 students have earned their degrees through our off-campus program since it began over 30 years ago. Our faculty and staff embrace President Poshard's vision and make it our mission to further our capacity to offer hope and opportunity to those who seek it."