ACC adds two new job positions

Allen Community College Board of Trustees discuss CTE program and new maintenance role.



May 15, 2024 - 3:56 PM

Maintenance Director Ryan Sigg has a lengthy discussion with the Allen Community College board of trustees. Photo by Vickie Moss

Allen Community College will add two new positions, including one aimed at working with local businesses to offer apprenticeships.

The other position will assist the maintenance director as the college builds a new Career and Technical Education building and targets long-deferred maintenance issues.

The board of trustees unanimously supported hiring a Director of Workforce Development and Apprenticeships. The position will report to Lisa Wicoff, Dean of CTE and Industry Partnerships, also a new position targeted at moving toward more technical career training options for students.

The Kansas Department of Commerce offers an apprenticeship program and money is available through federal and state grants to support such efforts by colleges and businesses, Kara Wheeler, ACC’s vice president for academic affairs, said.

Hutchinson Community College is an example of how to offer successful apprenticeships, she and Wicoff told the board.

“It’s exactly what you think it is,” Wheeler said. “A company brings on an employee and pays for them to go through the training. As soon as they’re done with the apprenticeship, the employee will get a higher wage. We will act as an education mediator to submit all the paperwork to the state. Businesses can get tax credits if they work with the college.”

The program offers many advantages, the duo said.

For example, instead of ACC investing in an entire plumbing certification program, they can place a small number of apprentices with professional plumbing companies to learn on the job.

ACC can offer general CTE classes, such as courses that teach how to read blueprints and design documents, or OSHA-certified courses to learn workplace safety. Grant money could potentially pay the cost of those courses.

Apprenticeships aren’t restricted to a geographical area. An Allen County apprentice, for example, could travel to Kansas City to work with a plumbing company there. The hope is that person might return to the local area to fill a need once their apprenticeship ends.

“It lets us get our feet wet with a few programs,” Wicoff said. “We will find out who the good teaching businesses are.”

The new position will serve as the liaison between ACC and local businesses, and will process all necessary paperwork for apprenticeships.  Funding for the position will be shifted from another CTE program. Trustees approved hiring someone to oversee an EMS training course but no one applied, so that program was put on hold.

ACC instructor Lisa Wicoff, left, and ACC Vice President of Student Affairs Cynthia Jacobson listen as Ryan Sigg discusses a new maintenance position. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

THE ASSISTANT maintenance director position drew criticism from trustee Vicki Curry, who questioned if it was a necessary expense at a time when enrollment is declining.

A lengthy discussion followed with Maintenance Director Ryan Sigg, who said he has been stretched thin since he took the job three years ago. He often has to prioritize projects, which means some work doesn’t get done in a timely manner.

Years of deferred maintenance has taken a toll on facilities, President Bruce Moses said. It’s more costly to push projects aside and then be forced to tackle them when something breaks.

But it goes beyond that, Moses and Sigg said. No one else in the maintenance department has the training to step in if Sigg is unavailable for an extended period of time. There’s no succession plan. And Sigg’s staff lacks certification and professional development training.

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