SAIL Training Helps Adults Learn a Skill to Find a Job

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At least 60 percent of Texas jobs will require a career certificate or college degree by 2020, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. And 44 percent of Texans over age 25 have never been to college, let alone earned a credential.

That’s why 21 community colleges across Texas are participating in Accelerate TEXAS to help more lower-skilled adults enroll in the programs that will advance their careers and strengthen the state’s entire workforce.

Accelerate TEXAS is a statewide initiative that helps thousands of adult learners accelerate through Adult Basic Education classes directly into a workforce training program and on to earn credentials with immediate labor market value. Adult Basic Education courses are free classes that help adult learners improve their skills to prepare for the GED and to reach a college-ready level.

Locally, VC’s Accelerate TEXAS initiative is called Students Accelerated through Integrated Learning (SAIL). Students can improve skills in preparation to take the GED while, at the same time, learn a trade such as nurse aide, truck driving, or welding. These are noncredit courses – they do not apply toward a credit degree, credit certificate, or academic transfer – but they do lead to nationally recognized certificates or state credentials.

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Marvin Cooper is one of the students who enrolled in SAIL training to become a truck driver.

Marvin Cooper, 21, is one of a number of students who enrolled in SAIL training and is learning to become a truck driver.

“I’d recommend this to anyone,” Cooper said while on a break from the truck driving range at the Victoria Regional Airport. “If you have a pulse, a heartbeat, and a passion to drive a truck, come on and do it. If you have the determination and the ability to learn a lot within a short period of time, you’re golden. You can do it.”

Cooper discovered SAIL when his sister was helping him return to school. While visiting VC’s Adult Education Center to get his GED, he saw a flyer for SAIL training and asked about it.

“We got some more information, and when I saw truck driving, I snapped that up,” Cooper said.

The student took his GED courses from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and learned parallel parking, straight backing, and horseshoe and city turns in the truck driving course during the day.

“In the GED classes, the instructors help with studying, reading and writing, and everything else,” Cooper said. “The support from the staff and instructors is phenomenal. They help you out whenever you need it.”

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Lacey Bowman attended welding classes taught at Victoria College’s Liberty Street Industrial Training Center.

Lacey Bowman, 29, another SAIL training student, received her GED in August and attended welding classes taught at Victoria College’s Liberty Street Industrial Training Center.

“It was time for me to do it,” Bowman said of her decision to earn a GED. “I couldn’t get a job. No one wanted to hire me because I didn’t have a GED, so I decided I needed to do something about that.”

She earned her GED at VC’s Adult Education Center and selected welding training because “I’ve always wanted to do the tomboy stuff.”

After receiving her welding certificate, Bowman plans to continue her education and earn an associate degree in welding, then work for at least five years as a welder. Her next step is to become a welding inspector, then own her own business.

She took credit classes during the day and attended welding classes from 6-9 p.m. Bowman enjoyed the nightly training and considered her fellow welding students as family.

“If it wasn’t for SAIL, I wouldn’t have gone to welding classes,” she said. “I would have gotten my GED, called it good, and gotten a job as a cashier. SAIL put those options out there for me and said, ‘We will pay for one of these three things. You pick which one you want.’”

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Michelle Rodriguez took advantage of the SAIL training and enrolled in the Nurse Aide Program.

Michelle Rodriguez took advantage of the SAIL training and enrolled in the Nurse Aide Program.

“I want my kids to finish school,” she said.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she was at the Adult Education Center from 8:45-11:45 a.m. and then attended nurse aide training at VC from 5-9 p.m.

“I would like to start working, but I want to go higher than a nurse aide,” Rodriguez said. “I would like to return to school to become an LVN. I like to help people.”

She describes her training as “a wonderful experience” and urges others considering the SAIL training to “go ahead and do it; don’t waste your time.”

Victoria College’s SAIL training is funded in part by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Accelerate TEXAS initiative.

Eric Jensen

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