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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 23, 2002 - Issue 55


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Cherokee Nation Offers Career Services Classes

TAHLEQUAH, OK - The Cherokee Nation Career Services group offers classes to prepare Native American students for jobs that are in high demand. The Career Services group offers students training in three disciplines and assistance with job placement after completion of the courses.

"We average about 90% successful placement ratio once students complete the program," said Ken Foster, Vocational Education Specialist.

The three areas currently offered are Business Technology, Childcare, and A+ Computer Training.

Business Technology students receive training in Microsoft Office software, as well as hands-on training in a business environment. Students work at their own pace and have up to twelve months to complete the required curriculum. Upon completion of the program, students will take a state approved test and, if they pass it, receive a certificate of completion of the course. The course is geared toward training administrative assistants with a special emphasis on computer knowledge. There are currently three slots available for students who are interested in pursuing a career in the business industry and entry into the program can begin at any time.

"It helped me in a lot of ways and I was able to get my GED," said Melissa Elk, who completed the program in April of 2001. Elk has since found a job as a file clerk with the Cherokee Nation Higher Education program.

"I would definitely recommend it to others. We had a great teacher." Elk completed the curriculum requirements in nine months by working at a pace that she felt comfortable.

Childcare students spend eight hours a week in a classroom setting and thirty-two hours per week in a hands-on environment at the Cherokee Nation Child Development Center. The Childcare program requires a twelve-month commitment to complete the course. Upon completion, students will take a test to receive their Child Development Associate Certificate. After receiving the CDA Certificate, students are eligible for employment as lead teachers with the Cherokee Nation or any state certified childcare facility. Many of the Childcare graduates have chosen to open their own day care facilities. The childcare class accepts ten students every year and is currently full at this time.

The A+ Training class is new to the career services program. It is a class designed to teach students how to assemble basic components of a computer, install hard ware devices, and troubleshoot technical problems with a computer. The class meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Sequoyah High School and is currently full. It is an 18-week program and does require a test before A+ certification can be granted at the completion of the course. Pre-tests are administered as part of the curriculum to ensure that students are ready for the certification test upon course completion.

These classes are offered as part of the Native American Vocational Technical Education Program from the Department of Education. The grant to operate the program is secured for three years at a time and it has been granted to the Cherokee Nation until 2004. The grant covers the equipment used, instructor's salaries, and student stipends. The Cherokee Nation has received this grant for the past ten years and it has produced many successful job seekers.

"We are starting to branch out and place more students in the private sector now," said Foster.

The Cherokee Nation Career Services assist students with job placement in Cherokee Nation offices, and other businesses such as LifeLine, Northeastern State University, Busy Bears Day Care, and Cherokee County offices. The Cherokee Nation pays the student's salary for the first thirty days of employment with the agency. After thirty days, if the student is performing at a satisfactory level, the student then becomes a regular employee of the participating agency. The Cherokee Nation will follow up with the student and the agency after one year of employment to collect feedback to ensure that current students are receiving the training most relevant to their field.

To be eligible for any of these classes, students must apply, meet income requirements, take an assessment test, be over eighteen years of age, have a valid driver's license, have a CDIB and be a member of a federally recognized tribe, and have a High School diploma or GED for the Childcare or A+ training programs. Business Technology students may enter the program without a GED or diploma, but must attend GED classes and obtain it before course completion. Limited stipends are also available for Business Technology and Childcare students that meet income requirements.

Applications are accepted daily at the Cherokee Nation Career Services department and kept on file until a new program starts or a position opens up within one of the courses. Childcare and Business Technology students must also go through an interview before final acceptance. For more information or to obtain an application, call Ken Foster at 918-456-0671 ext. 2428

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