CCBC ACE program graduates inaugural class
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 12:38

New program trains students for careers

by Nicole Rodman

    Dundalk resident Brenda Goeller’s life went into a tailspin when her 50-year-old husband died suddenly three years ago.
    Already facing life without the man she described to The Eagle as “my best friend,” Goeller faced yet another challenge when she lost her job working for a certified public accountant.
    Goeller was at the Eastpoint Workforce Development Center one day looking for a new job when she came across a flier for the ACE (Accelerating Connections to Employment) program at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).
    It was a flier that would change her life.
    “It seemed like a good opportunity and something to do — something to give me hope,” Goeller said of the program.
    The ACE program is a federally-funded workforce training initiative that offers career training and assistance to job seekers.
    A multi-state initiative, ACE is administered in  six Maryland jurisdictions and in Texas, Connecticut and Georgia.
    In Baltimore County, the program has been run by CCBC.
  

Now, CCBC and county officials are celebrating the first class to graduate from the program.
    CCBC’s ACE program trains students for careers as dental assistants, logistics technicians or utility installation technicians.
    The program combines skills and employability training with instruction in computer and financial literacy.
    “The ACE grant provides students with the education and training they need, enhanced by career counseling and job placement services that are vital components to their overall success,” CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis said in a statement.
    “They can enter the workforce with skill and confidence, ready to begin building solid careers and attaining long-term financial growth.”
    As CCBC Career Transition Coordinator Lauren Rice explained, the classes vary in length and scheduling.
    The utility installation program takes 10 weeks to complete, while the logistics technician program is four months long and the dental assistant program is seven months long.
    Students in the ACE program take technical and skills training courses, academic skills enhancement courses, 30 hours of computer literacy, 20 hours of financial literacy and 20 hours of job readiness training.
    While the dental assistant program does offer evening and weekend classes, classes for the other two programs take place on weekdays.
    According to Rice, CCBC staff work closely with students to help them find jobs in their new fields.
    “This is accomplished primarily by the ACE Career Navigator and the ACE Job Developer,” Rice noted. “The main goal of our Job Developer is to create partnerships with local employers in order to create a pipeline for our graduates and their potential employees.”
    The success of the program will be carefully evaluated based on the number of people who complete the program.
    “The goal is an 80 percent program completion rate, of which 75 percent will need to find full-time employment; however, we are striving for higher percentages than that,” Rice said.
    Goeller, who graduated from the ACE program on April 8 with a dental assistant certification, considers herself one of the success stories.
    Next month, she is scheduled to take the Radiation and Health Safety Exam, a test required of all prospective dental assistants.
    Once she passes the test, Goeller will be able to find employment in her new field.
    Though she does not know what drew her to the dental assistant program — “It just called to me,” she noted — she is excited to begin her new career.
    Goeller credits the ACE program with giving her the support and skills she needed to build a brighter future.
    “I feel more confident,” she said, adding, “I feel like this program has given me the confidence I needed.”
    CCBC’s ACE program is continuing to recruit new students for upcoming sessions.
    For more information, e-mail ACE@ccbcmd.edu or call  the CCBC information line at 443-840-4625.