CAMBRIDGE — This spring, Chesapeake College is bringing adult education courses to the Dorchester Career and Technology Center.
Dr. Clay Railey became vice president for Workforce and Academic Programs at the college in June. While taking on the new role, he said one of his priorities was to expand programs within the counties Chesapeake College serves, including Dorchester. So this past summer, when Dorchester County Manager Jeremy Goldman approached him about partnering with DCTC, Dr. Railey said he was very interested.
After meeting for lunch that summer, Mr. Goldman arranged a tour of the facility and a meeting with Kermit Hines, DCTC principal and supervisor of career and technology education. Dr. Railey said he spent about three hours taking the tour, and speaking with Mr. Goldman and Mr. Hines. Partnering with Mr. Hines at DCTC then became one of Dr. Railey’s first priorities upon becoming a vice president at the college.
“This spring, we’re beginning to offer welding classes down there as a result of this first meeting,” Dr. Railey said Thursday. “We’re talking with a dealership about starting a diesel auto mechanic program down there, a collision body repair program, and another auto mechanic program as well.”
These programs are in addition to cosmetology and nail technician courses that are already established at DCTC. Dr. Railey is also working with Mr. Hines to potentially introduce culinary, electrical, carpentry and plumbing classes in the county.
“They’ve got state-of-the-art equipment in there, and they can have large classrooms,” Dr. Railey said of DCTC. “Their kitchen has 20 cook tops. The welding area could probably handle 15 or 20 people. The auto mechanic area, the body repair area, is huge. So, they’ve got a great capacity for training a lot of people to go into these skilled trades.”
According to Dr. Railey, Chesapeake College’s partnership with DCTC will help address a need for employees in the area.
“Right now, for every graduate of a CTE (career and technical education) program, there are five jobs available on the Mid-Shore,” Dr. Railey said. “So, we really need word to get out that there are jobs and careers here on the Eastern Shore in the trades that pay anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 entry level. We’ve got the programs here at the college to get people on the pathway there, to learn the skills, to master the skills, for any number of these careers.”
AT DCTC, the college will offer programs that may lead to a certification or an associate’s degree. According to Dr. Railey, students who complete the courses will likely be qualified to work in careers that are in demand on the Shore, and will face less potential debt than students who attend a four-year school.
“They can learn right where they live,” Dr. Railey said. “With this career, they can buy a home, they can raise a family, they can enjoy the quality of life on the Eastern Shore that makes it so attractive for people to live here and visit here. … They can stay here and they can make a good living.”
The courses will likely be held on weekday evenings and weekends. In some cases, high school students who participate in specialized classes at DCTC will be able to continue their education through Chesapeake College.
“It’s a very high priority for us that we establish a good, working, collaborative relationship with Kermit and his faculty and students down there, and that we provide programming in that building after they’re finished with it,” Dr. Railey said. “It’s a magnificent facility, but they only use it until around three o’clock in the afternoon. There’s a lot more workforce training that we could provide for the citizens of Dorchester County if we use that building at night and on weekends.”
Mr. Goldman said making better use of the facility and workforce training has been a priority of the Dorchester County Council as well.
“When we look at workforce development, if there is a mismatch between skills and available jobs, that needs to be addressed,” Mr. Goldman said. “By partnering with the college and public schools, career and technical education will take our available people that need work, or need better work, and get them the skills they need.”
For more information about Chesapeake College’s offerings at DCTC, contact Rita Mielke, the college’s skilled trades programs coordinator, at 410-822-5400, ext. 2360, or email@example.com.