Friday, October 21, 2011

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas has 19 WAGE centers and the Department of Career Education is working to add three more by the end of the year.

WAGE is a job training program run by the department with help from local employers. It's for students with skills below the ninth month of the 12th grade. They study at a local adult education center or community college and if they pass they receive one of three state-issued certificates. The certificates are in Industrial, Clerical and Employability.

Employers participate by allowing educators to visit their place of business and do an analysis of the skills needed by workers. The educators use the analysis to create a customized set of competencies for students to learn if they want to work in that business. Perhaps the student already has a job at the business and wants to move up in responsibility.

Participating employers usually agree to give added consideration to job applicants who have earned a WAGE certificate. If an incumbent employee wants to get WAGE certification the employer often allows them leave time for classes.

WAGE is a trademarked term that stands for Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy.

Students learn 112 basic skills in mathematics, communications, reading and writing. For example, they learn to convert fractions to decimals and percentages to fractions. The reading skills they learn include locating information on charts, tables and graphs. The writing skills include accurate keyboarding and being able to summarize precisely.

One employer who participates says that he is pleased that WAGE programs can be adapted to his business's specific requirements. Another likes the fact that WAGE has helped all of his workforce improve their skills, regardless of their age.

Students can sign up at any time and leave when they have fulfilled all the requirements to get a certificate. It is free, not only for students but also for participating businesses. For more information you can visit the Web site of the Arkansas Department of Career Education, at this address: and click on menu bar that says Adult Education. The link to WAGE is in the left hand column.

The governor recently issued a proclamation designating Adult Education Week in Arkansas, with the goal of encouraging people to get a GED if they don't have a high school diploma. Arkansas is one of only a handful of states that does not charge students for getting a GED, but by the year 2014 all 50 states will have to start charging when a student takes his or her GED test. Therefore, anyone thinking about enrolling in a GED program should do so now, while it is free.

Horse Auction

Arkansas prisons, run by the Correction Department, operate extensive farm programs that include raising livestock. Working a farm keeps the inmates busy, and when prisoners produce their own food it holds down the costs to taxpayers of running a prison.

The Correction Department has announced its first horse auction. It will be November 19 at the Saline County Fairgrounds. The public can bid on about 60 "retired" horses, colts, mules and jacks. The department's working herd numbers about 450 head.

The animals may be viewed and ridden November 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On November 19 they may be viewed from 8 a.m. to noon. The sale begins at 1 p.m. November 19.

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