Clark College beefs up business outreach

Four hires in the last two years with more to come

A renewed energy is evident in Clark College’s workforce and professional development and customized training departments, an area that was once greatly overshadowed by the college’s academic focus.

Since her hire in mid 2004, Lisa Pletcher, executive dean for workforce development, has worked to bridge a gap between the college and the business community.

"My job was to reinvigorate our efforts and reposition the college to be more responsive to the community," she said. "Serving the business community is one of the core missions of the community college."

Bringing on Pletcher was just the beginning. Michelle Giovannozzi, corporate relations manager, was hired in April 2005, and Julia Magglione, manager of professional development, was hired in July. Giovannozzi and Magglione report to Todd Oldham, director of corporate education, who was brought on in October. In addition, Pletcher said Giovannozzi is just the first of a soon-to-be expanded corporate relations team, which may consist of up to five employees serving several sectors of the business community.

"We want to build a proactive continuing education program that is actively going out to the community and partnering with businesses for their training needs," said Oldham.

Looking ahead, Oldham sees a particular need to expand the college’s offering of leadership and management training.

The college has met with community and business leaders to identify strategies for success and has formed partnerships with the Columbia River Economic Development Council and Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council.

"I applaud their efforts to revitalize their ability to be responsive to the needs of businesses," said Jerry Petrick, SWWDC business and industries group manager. "They have put a lot of energy and resources toward being able to grow their capabilities and we absolutely need them to be successful in this venture because they are a tremendous partner for us and the CREDC."

Improving the department’s efforts, which Petrick said had been fairly ineffective in the past, is important to the competitiveness of the market.

"We need to be able to turn to them with confidence … when we come across situations where customized training is appropriate," said Petrick. "I see them as an integral partner in being able to put together a comprehensive and holistic response to the needs of … companies or other organizations that are involved in growing our economy."

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