Taking a big step forward in providing vocational-technical education to high schools in the Effingham area, the Lake Land College Board of Trustees is working towards approving an agreement for imparting vocational-technical education to the Effingham Area High Schools. The proposed intergovernmental agreement, which is called, Effingham Regional Career Academy (ERCA), is the result of the collaboration between the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, the Lake Land College, and 14 districts in and around Effingham County. The proposal outlines all the services, including – instructional and operational for the academy and its participants.
In a report to the board, Vice President for Academic Services at the Lake Land College, Jon Althaus, wrote that the academy will provide vocational-technical education and career pathways for high school students in 14 districts in and around the Effingham area. The initial academy member districts will include – Altamont, Brownstown, Beecher City, Cumberland, Cowden-Herrick, Effingham, Dieterich, Jasper, Neoga, Louisville North Clay, St. Elmo, St. Anthony, Stewardson-Strasburg, and Teutopolis high schools.
The project, which has been in the works for more than five years, was initiated with a goal to provide a skilled workforce. If the project is approved, it is going to be a great learning opportunity for not just the high-school kids but incumbent businesses and workers as well. Participating students will be able to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Some of the courses will also be eligible for dual credit, meaning the students who participate in the programs will be able to earn high school and college credit simultaneously.
As a part of the agreement, if the Lake Land College manages to secure funding, it plans to construct a new facility near the existing Kluthe Center for Higher Education and Technology in Effingham to hold various technical and vocational programs. In the meantime, the board plans to offer vocational education programs at facilities owned by the Lake Land College, member districts, and other groups. The focus of the program will be on five key career areas, including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, automotive, information technology, and healthcare.
Although, this isn’t going to be the first time when vocational education will be offered in this region but it’s going to be the first time when public and private agencies will come together to provide a boost to vocational and technical education in the area.