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EARLIER: JCTC aids in recruitment of Harley

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By Lisa King

If obtaining technical training for its employees at a very low cost is important to officials of Harley-Davidson, then Shelby County has another ace up its sleeve in attempting to lure the company to the county.

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"They have narrowed their choices down to three, and we are one of those locations being considered," said Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

McCall spoke Thursday at Jefferson Community and Technical College, Shelby County's campus, to launch an advocacy campaign to raise awareness and support for the state's community and technical colleges.

"You take a company like Harley-Davidson, they want people with technical skills, but they also want well-rounded people who have the ability of critical thinking and the ability to work as a team, and that comes with education," he said. "We have been in contact with them [Harley-Davidson] about technical training."

And he said that the college would supply technical training at a very small cost to the company.

"They would pay a small portion of the cost of training, and we would pay the rest," he said.

Shelby County - along with Shelbyville, Ind., and Murfreesboro, Tenn. - is under consideration by Harley officials as potential sites for possible relocation of fits largest motorcycle production plant from York County, Pa. A decision is expected in December.

McCall said that if Harley-Davidson decides to move, the college would work hand in hand with the company to supply technical training for employees.

"We would work very closely with them, and find out exactly what are the training needs that they have," he said. "They would say, 'This is the job we're going to have.' And therefore, what we would do is analyze that job and see what skills they need, and we give them the training for that skill, so that when they go to work, they're already training and ready to work.

"So the company doesn't have to wait. We would provide that service to them."

Harley-Davidson, which has had declining sales and profits in 2009, is about to enter into contract negotiations with their union employees at the plant in York. Officials are trying to trim costs, and a new contract and relocation are two of their options.

  A public campaign

Because of opportunities such as these, McCall urged both students and faculty, as well as residents, to contact their legislators in order to maintain funding to keep important programs in place at community colleges, such as technical training programs, in keeping with his campaign's theme of "Transforming Lives, Transforming Kentucky."

Each college will conduct campaigns in their areas, but all 16 colleges would  speak with one voice, for the first time, to demonstrate the enormous impact that KCTCS colleges have on the state's students and business and industry.

McCall added that KCTCS colleges enroll nearly half of all college students in the state, and serve hundreds of businesses a year through customized training and education programs.

He urged students and faculty to get involved in the campaign to let lawmakers know that programs such as these are important.

"When I think about our workforce, people will enter the workforce by earning a degree, but then they need to get a job, and that's very important," he said. "Our concern is to make sure we have the funds to grow; that's why it's important for you to help support us."

Betty Shiffman, an English teacher at JCTC, said she was concerned about having enough money to keep qualified faculty at the school.

"We are so lucky to have the best part-time faculty around, but we desperately need more full-time faculty," she said.

Terri Giltner, assistant director of marketing and communications, said the campaign's goal, though difficult, is as simple as it is far-reaching.

"It's all about getting all of our supporters to reach out to their legislators and policy-makers to make sure we're funded enough so that we can do what needs to be done to transform the state's economy," she said. "We're very different from U of L or UK where they have basketball or football teams and get a lot of alumni support. We've had five budget cuts in five years."

Mike Stamper, a student at JCTS, said getting the proper training is very important to him.

"It's  tough out there," he said. "So I want that edge. I'm the first one in my family to go to college, and I want to get all of it that I can."

JCTC enrolls nearly 15,000 students on six campuses and online programs.

For more information, visit www.kctcs.edu.