A law change that occurred in 2014 is set to be implemented in July this year but the Adult Learning Center is jumping ahead.

The Workforce, Innovation, and Opportunity Act replaced the Workforce Investment Act which, according to the US Department of Labor and US Department of Education, says is designed to strengthen and improve the public workforce system throughout the country.

According to the US Department of Labor website, the Act is to help Americans, including youth and those with significant barriers to employment, into high-quality jobs and careers and to help employers hire and retain skilled workers.

"It is a new focus on employment and business partners," ALC director Brandie Ferguson said. "Previously they wanted us teaching strictly ESL (English as a Second Language) for people to be able to speak the basics to say their doctor for example, now we will be able to teach those skills for careers and retaining a job."

Two of those changes were to begin teaching basic computer skills and basic math.

"Everyone has a smartphone," Dodge City Community College ESL coordinator Marti Aberson said. "But when people get in front of a computer and it has a mouse, not many people know what it is.

"Working under the Workforce Investment Act, the ALC was tasked with being a starting point for many in Dodge City to make changes in their lives and employment.

"WIA always assumed that acquiring a GED or learning to speak and understand English would improve the employment and earnings of those served by the ALC.

"It was found that, oftentimes, improvement was intangible and didn’t translate into a measurable achievement.

"Improvement could be found in being able to talk to the doctor or earning that extra percentage on a paycheck.

"Sometimes, improvement was simply retaining a job.

"WIOA took the spirit of the previous law and created a prescription for expectations to become a reality.

"The evolving purpose of the ALC is workplace and career training.

"At the onset of the new fiscal year, the center aligned with agencies across the state to focus on employment as the objective for all who attended classes at the Adult Learning Center."

With the new computer classes, more computers did have to be purchased, according to Ferguson.

"Pathways that lead directly to jobs or training are being explored as well," said Abersson. "This added concentration couldn’t be done without input from area employers.

"The phrase, 'it takes a village' is now cliché and trite but it still maintains a kernel of truth.

"Without partnerships with local employers, the ALC will fall short of being a component of workforce success. The ALC is dedicated to seeing its students be successful in the workplace or in a secondary training program, but the center must have the input of the whole community to deliver a productive curriculum for students to be able to answer the needs of the community.

"The ALC is moving towards partnerships with businesses so that the center can better fulfill the needs of local employers.

"If the efforts of the ALC missed contacting any area employers, those employers are invited to call or stop by the Adult Learning Center at 700 Avenue G, to discuss creating a partnership with the ALC."

The ALC has always been an educational facility focused on helping the residents of Dodge City obtain their GED and/or learn English and has been part of the Dodge City community and DCCC, the past 83 years.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@dodgeglobe.com