As we mentioned in our Aug. 15 feature entitled Plugging The Brain Drain, the Linn County Area and Career Technical Center (LCACTC), formerly known as the Area Career Center, has been working closely with the Brookfield Area Growth Partnership (BAGP) to connect local employee supply with local employer demand. Currently, the Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requires LCACTC to track its graduates for 180 days following high school graduation. Knowing where these graduates have gone and what they have accomplished following commencement is critical to matching local supply and demand when it comes to retaining them in Linn County or encouraging them to return. Effectively addressing any social problem requires that we have an accurate idea of its extent. As such, the rate of 'brain drain' that occurs when our high school graduates move away, never to return and contribute to the Linn County economy, needs to be gauged. Whether six months is adequate is open to question, but there is little doubt that LCACTC Director Carey Smith takes a personal interest in LCACTC students and can readily disclose where many of the ones who stay in Linn County have found employment. As examples, Smith shares that Kim Wilkerson and at least seven other LCACTC graduates are working at McLarney Manor. Describing the advantages of hiring these LCACTC graduates, Wilkerson advises, "They are more patient-oriented, and because they were required by the LCACTC's Health Services program to complete 75 [hands-on] hours in the classroom and 100 hours at the actual job site, they come to the job with experience and knowing what to expect."
And as we reported months ago, Vernon Robertson with Walsworth Publishing Co., the primary source of local employment for LCACTC graduates in recent years, had let the LCACTC Board know that the local publisher was interested in receiving applications for the position of Maintenance Electrician. Robertson further indicated that Walsworth Publishing might be willing to provide additional training for the right applicant (i.e., someone who passed its written aptitude exam). This week, Smith explained, "Vernon tells us that there is a shortage of electrical maintenance technicians. We would like to develop a course in basic electronics to meet this need. We are partnering with North Central Mo. College (NCMC) to reach this goal, and an NCMC representative has attended a meeting of the Linn County Governing Board for The Linn County Area Career and Technical Center."