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The Career Advancement and Applied Technology Training Division blazed a new trail to South Texas this summer.

The division loaded up the TEEX wagon with some computers and other equipment and headed south to Corpus Christi, Odem and Kingsville at the invitation of the Coastal Bend Workforce Development Board. When summer was over, CAAT instructors had helped 63 students acquire the technical skills they need for jobs with good salaries.

In Odem, Rusty Cooper and Johnathon Rice taught a customized Network Technician course, a 288-hour course combining computer repair and networking. In Corpus Christi, Doug Washington taught a new class, Certified Office Specialist, which will be introduced in San Antonio this fall. In Kingsville and Corpus Christi, Steve Lorch taught Introduction to Electricity, a 200-hour class designed for at-risk youth. The classes were all designed to meet the training needs of students identified by the Workforce Development Board.

“This is the first time we’ve taken our classes on the road,” says Division Head Jackie Gorman. “We packed the van and took the classes down to South Texas. For the Certified Office Specialist class, we even built the lab, ran the wire and brought in the computers.

“It was a great experience and we would love to do it again,” she adds. “This lets us know that we can work outside the bricks and mortar. We’re not as attached to our building as we thought we were. It worked in Corpus Christi, so we know we can do it someplace else.”

The Certified Office Specialist course is a brand new curriculum, Gorman said. The 10-week, 384-hour course offers students the opportunity to earn certification as a Microsoft Office Users Specialist (MOUS).

“We’ve been working on this new curriculum for a couple of years, and the class in Corpus Christi allowed us to try it out,” she added. “We will introduce it in San Antonio this fall. The new curriculum is a response to our advisory board, which suggested we train general office workers with computer skills in Microsoft Word and Excel. This course offers certification that is nationally recognized, and CAAT is a Microsoft testing facility.

“Some members of the class have never touched a computer when they enter the program and we teach them everything they need to know. By the time they finish, many are keyboarding 40 to 45 words per minute and most earn their MOUS certification.

Sixty-four percent of the first class passed the Word certification and 80 percent passed the Excel certification.”

Graduates of the Network Technician course in Odem were eligible for certification as Computer Network Service Technicians. The Odem-Edroy Independent School District provided the classroom, and two ISD staff members attended the class. As a class project, the students got hands-on experience networking the Odem Elementary School, Cooper said.

“For each class, we do a project for a non-profit group,” he said. “We like to give something back to the community. The class efforts in networking the elementary school turned out to be a big deal, and the class graduation was covered by Channel 3 from Corpus Christi.”

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Kathy Fraser

Director of Marketing and Communications

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