WAGE AND ITS PARTNERS
The WAGE director and the only full-time paid instructor for WAGE are responsible for recruiting new participants, doing outreach to businesses and other partners, conducting intake for students, administering the TABE and WAGE certificate tests, instructing students, performing and interpreting the Literacy Task Analyses, and assisting with job placement. Without the active participation of the partners who assist them in most of these roles, they would be hard-pressed to accomplish it all.South Arkansas Community College
South Arkansas Community College has two campuses several miles apart. The campus downtown is the academic center, and the campus on the outskirts of town, which houses the adult education center and WAGE, is the primary site for workforce and economic development activities. South Ark has traditionally had a strong workforce development mission, so WAGE was an easy fit for them. According to South Ark's president, "This college really wants to serve businesses." As a sign of their strong support for WAGE, college administrators recently decided to include WAGE graduates in the graduation ceremony for all students.
Many classes are held on campus, an arrangement with advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, students who can drive there enjoy the experience of "going to college," and the college offers computer labs, a career guidance center, and other facilities in addition to classes. Unfortunately, however, there is no public transportation to this campus, so that access can be difficult for some learners. Moving the One-Stop, along with some WAGE classes, from South Ark to the center of town has alleviated this problem for many.The One-Stop Center
One-Stop Center officials are active members of the advisory group, and staff are pleased to have a program to which they can refer job seekers who lack basic skills and need TABE testing. WAGE relies on the One-Stop for referrals, support services, classroom space, and job search and placement services.
WAGE is an important stop for adult learners at the One-Stop, which recently moved into an abandoned shopping mall in the heart of downtown. Although the run-down buildings and empty parking lots are somewhat dreary, the ambiance changes the moment a visitor opens the front door. The halls and rooms are well lit and cheerful, and One-Stop staff are courteous and friendly. The WAGE classroom is just down the hall from the One-Stop's main reception area, so learners can get a referral from One-Stop staff and walk just a few steps down the hall to meet with WAGE's instructor.
In the classroom, several WAGE participants are working their way through the curriculum towards a WAGE certificate. Some are honing their math and reading skills using interactive software adapted to include the workplace competencies needed by El Dorado employers. Most are welfare recipients who heard about WAGE from their DHS caseworker. They have varying occupational goals. One woman wants to work at home; another is hoping for an office job; and a third is contemplating college. Each is grateful for WAGE's services and enthusiastic about their second chance to get a good job. They also appreciate the schedule, which allows them to attend class in the mornings when their children are at school and to set their own pace for their work.Department of Employment Security
"Before WAGE, I seldom got outside of my own realm. Now, it is the individual I serve....I know what my partners can offer. Before, I could give a referral and I never knew if the person even got there. Now I know he got there." This was the response of a Department of Employment Security staff member when asked what WAGE offered her department. She also noted that WAGE gives her job-ready people. DES sends referrals to WAGE and offers participants assistance in finding a job, such as resume development and job leads. Many WAGE graduates are hired immediately after or even before they graduate from the program by employers eagerly seeking a "WAGE worker".Department of Human Services
Like DES, DHS provides WAGE with many referrals and support services for welfare recipients who enroll in WAGE. For DHS, WAGE is an excellent program for their job-seeking clients who lack basic skills and for those who need TABE testing. In addition, through a special program, WAGE participants receiving food stamps can get job-placement support from an employment and training coordinator who works at South Ark.