Work and Life Skills Program starts next month

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The Moffat County Work and Life Skills Program is looking for instructors to teach classes on technology in the workplace, personal finance and developing positive work relationships. To learn more about these positions or to apply, call Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director, at 846-1663.

— The first day of classes looms near for the Moffat County Work and Life Skills Program Coalition.

Group members are preparing to start after-school classes on post-graduate skills in early February.

But before the program kicks off in three to four weeks, coalition members have a few loose ends to tie up.

Task one: Refine admissions information.

The coalition plans to put out a brochure for students detailing what the program is and is not, said Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director and program coalition member.

"It's real clear on the rules, real clear on the guidelines," she added.

The program is designed to prepare high school students for the work force, as well as prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies, as required by its grant funding,

Participation is voluntary and students can earn a laptop computer if they meet all curriculum and attendance requirements.

Coalition members plan to include program applications in the brochures and distribute them to students before Work and Life Skills classes begin next month

The coalition had tentatively planned to launch the program this month, Trask said, but added that a January state date wasn't officially set.

Finishing this project will be the group's "first priority," Program Coordinator Susan Whinery said.

Trask anticipates there will be enough slots for all students who want to participate but stressed admission isn't a given.

"If we have more interest than we have dollars, then we might have to turn some folks away," Trask said.

Task two: Locate instructors.

Students will be required to attend nine to 10 classes and assemble a portfolio including a resume and cover letter. Large-group seminars on topics including intergenerational and cross-cultural communications also will be mandatory.

But, there's a hitch.

When the program grant was written, Trask expected to rely solely on volunteer instructors, she said.

If 200 students enroll, however, the coalition will need to hire teachers in addition to volunteers. Class sizes could average 20 students each if enrollment is as high as expected.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission employees have offered to teach some modules. In coming weeks, Trask said she hopes to find instructors to lead classes on technology in the workplace, personal finance and developing positive work relationships.

But, the pool from which the group could hire may be limited.

Funding for the program is provided by money from Colorado Works, the state's welfare program, that Moffat County Social Services saved. State legislative changes this year required Social Services to use the lion's share of welfare program funds it had been saving since 1997.

Social Services was "very uncomfortable" with the coalition using grant dollars to pay instructors already associated with the program, Trask said.

Those organizations include the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and the Moffat County School District.

"It almost felt like we were penalizing those of us that have taken the time and energy to volunteer and be a part of this" program, Trask said.

She added that coalition members will work to secure instructors in coming weeks.

The coalition plans to start looking for laptop computers soon. Members resolved Thursday to put out bids to local businesses but made no promises to purchase exclusively from area stores.

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