College looks to build local work force

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Gene Bilodeau, campus dean of Colorado Northwestern Community College, would like to see more of Craig's youths get degrees here and enter the work force locally.

That was the thrust of the message delivered to the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership at Thursday's meeting.

Bilodeau sees CNCC achieving that goal by offering programs that are geared toward local employers searching for employees.

"Some high school kids have no desire to leave the valley," Bilodeau said. "CNCC wants to help them be gainfully employed and help them find careers here."

One of the things the college is looking at for the future is the power plant program, designed to train workers for employment at the Craig Station Power Plant as its aging work force faces a number of retirements in the next five to 10 years.

Also under consideration are extending the aviation program offered by CNCC in Rangely to the Craig campus for jobs at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, and possibly a coal industry program to prepare workers for underground and surface mining employment at nearby mines.

These industries are looking for employees with certain skill levels and work ethics that could be taught locally, Bilodeau said.

Although some programs may still be years away from inception, Bilodeau said current programs that teach computers and spreadsheets are already helping Craig youths stay in this area.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031 ext.207 or at dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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