The Duncan Banner

Opinion

July 14, 2013

Lessons for us all at Red River Technology Center

DUNCAN — Sam Porter meant business when he visited with members of the Duncan Rotary Club last week.

 Porter, Jackie Jacobi, Dana Harwell and Kent Brown oversee the Business and Industry Services Center at Duncan’s Red River Technology Center (RRTC). His mission, successfully accomplished, was to share benefits of the program and generate a better awareness of available services and expertise.

 It was an enlightening message and while it focused on business activities, Porter was also quick to remind it is only one of many services and opportunities available through the Technology Center than began here in 1966 in the west building on Duncan High’s campus as the Duncan Area Vocational Technical Center.

Much has changed in workforce development since then.

Catch-phrases and slogans like “Tomorrow Starts at Red River Technology Center”, “Leaders in Customized Education and Training,” and “Taking Dreams and Building Realities” are personified on the Bois d’Arc campus, changing lives and improving the quality of life for students and employers.

The business component, subdivided into four areas, is a remarkable example.

Jacobi’s area of expertise deals with helping businesses get started and succeed. She provides basic data that creates a foundation, helps develop a business plan, gauges the impact of specific obstacles that might occur, offers financial instruction and provides training workshops and individual consultations.

It’s unlikely she can guarantee success, but her assistance and assessments certainly increase the odds.

Recognizing the availability of work awarded annually through competitive bidding by cities, counties, states and federal agencies and the Department of Defense, Harwell coordinates ways to help local businesses and companies take advantage of the process.

She coaches participants on how to recognize, reduce or eliminate the red tape, how to find projects, how to qualify for consideration and works to ensure applications are properly submitted.

A plan room for bid preparation helps the process.

Brown coordinates the environmental. health, safety and human resources segment of the center, one whose broad title matches the diversified needs of workplaces in Stephens County.

His work addresses areas of concern and potential problems before they occur, providing examples of what has and could happen or suggesting lines of prevention before issues arise. His team conducts safety walkthroughs, participates in safety meetings, provides training sessions and plans and works with companies to create safer and healthier workplaces.

Additionally, his skills include lessons on complex personnel issues ranging from recruiting, interviewing and hiring to harassment or violence prevention.

Porter’s industrial training work addresses existing industry and the need to increase profitability, to retrain current employees for new responsibilities, to retain jobs and to position companies to remain competitive and viable. It identifies workforce shortages and seeks to fill those positions. And it provides training for companies interested in coming to Stephens County or Oklahoma, creating new jobs for area residents.

 He said the workforce is more competitive than ever and illustrated the career readiness need for more accelerated “how to think” programs and “problem solving skills” in our schools by noting “90 percent of jobs that pay a living wage would require an educational background equal to an ACT score of 22.”

Most recent composite scores are Duncan 20.3, Oklahoma 20.7 and the United States 21.1.

That points to the value of institutions like Red River that do indeed challenge elite high school students and help prepare others for success at the college level, but which also fulfill the philosophy that all worthy jobs and vocations don’t require a college degree.

Sophisticated pre-med (bio-medical) and pre-engineering academies, Porter said, are among the state’s best. Premier programs for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration boast 100 percent job placement. Dozens of other affordable programs with flexible schedules are offered as well.

So while Porter means business, an even more important message may be that in the Red River Technology Center that serves Duncan, Marlow, Comanche, Empire, Velma-Alma, Bray-Doyle, Central High, Waurika, Ryan, Walters, Temple, Terral and Grandview, we have a jewel that makes available quality continuing education.

Using it to its fullest potential might show just how smart we really are.

edarling@duncanbanner.com; 580-255-5354, Ext. 130

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