Pulaski Technical College's Business and Industry Center is using a $60,000 grant from Levi Strauss & Co. to provide short-term training to workers affected by Levi Strauss plant closures and to other unemployed and underemployed central Arkansas residents.
The money was awarded through Levi Strauss & Co.'s Community Transition Fund and is being used to provide computer skills training, employability training and employment counseling to 50 people in central Arkansas.
About 320 people lost their jobs when Levi Strauss closed its Little Rock plant in fall 2006. Many of those workers, through employee assessments, voiced an interest in short-term training in basic computer skills.
"We designed a curriculum that will boost workers' computer competencies and help them develop skills they need to be successful in their next job," said Marty Mahler, dean of continuing education and outreach at Pulaski Tech.
That curriculum includes instruction in basic computer operation, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, resume writing and job interviewing.
The classes, which began Feb. 12 and end May 25, are offered at Pulaski Tech's Business and Industry Center, located at 3303 East Roosevelt Road on the campus of the Aerospace Education Center near Little Rock National Airport.
The college partnered with the Central Arkansas Workforce Investment Board to contact former Levi Strauss employers through direct mail.
Pulaski Tech initially planned to offer three consecutive 15-week programs throughout the year.
"The response we got was overwhelming," Dr. Mahler said. "We had more people apply than we had room for, and no one wanted to wait for the training, so we decided to offer the classes concurrently."
One group of students meets 8-10:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Another group meets 3:30-6 p.m. on the same days, and a third class meets 8-10:45 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The Pulaski Technical College Foundation assisted the Business and Industry Center in the grant application.
"We are indeed grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Levi Strauss & Co. this year," said Joyce Taylor, executive director of the Pulaski Technical College Foundation. "This grant opens up educational opportunities for people throughout central Arkansas and is helping Pulaski Tech fulfill its mission."
Pulaski Technical College is a comprehensive, two-year college that serves the educational needs of central Arkansas through more than 50 occupational/technical degree and certificate programs, a university-transfer curriculum and specialized programs for business and industry.
The college's mission is to provide access to high quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state.