PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE ADULT EDUCATION CENTER
The support and resources of a large, stable organization can be vital to developing and sustaining partnerships. In this area, North Idaho College serves as a foundation for multiple regional partnerships and is a catalyst for initiating programs that support workforce development and adult education. NIC focuses on three different populations—the emerging workforce, the incumbent workforce, and the transitional workforce. The college's work with the Adult Education Center, the One-Stop Center, and its other partners is central to ensuring that the needs of all three populations are addressed. As Steve McKenna of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says, "NIC has been a good conduit to get things done, to move from one item to another." Some examples of how NIC supports the Adult Education Center and other local workforce development organizations are the following:
NIC also operates as a fiscal agent for the Center and several of its partners, such as the Center for New Directions, a counseling center serving adult single parents, displaced homemakers, and single pregnant women, and Even Start, by providing accounting services and facilitating the transfer of funding. This allows the partners to share and leverage funding with few bureaucratic obstacles. One agency can simply send an electronic message to the college controller and transfer funds to another agency. NIC also makes other significant contributions, such as paying the Adult Education Center rent and the director's salary and providing office space and equipment.
NIC's Workforce Training and Community Education Division, the division that directly oversees the Adult Education Center, also works with the Center and other partners to establish occupational training programs to meet the changing needs of the community and local employers. It sends out a course catalogue that includes an advertisement for the Adult Education Center to everyone in the five counties. Learners in Workforce Training programs can also get vouchers, paid for by the Department of Health and Welfare, to take classes at the Center.
NIC administrators see adult education as "part of the supply chain" of workforce development and believe that the college needs a variety of ways to help adults prepare for work. Their partnership with the Center helps them accomplish this goal. Administrators say that adult education has a "home" at the college; it is part of the institution. In fact, adult education is so important at NIC that it is one of the twelve indicators of success measured in the annual review of the entire college. As Robert Ketchum, assistant vice president for instruction at NIC says, if a program is important, "Don't hand it to the Dean of Everything Else." NIC sees the Adult Education Center as a vital part of fulfilling its mission.