As we approach the fall semester at Garden City Community College, many southwest Kansans are approaching today's economic realities with an urgent need for effective learning that meets their career goals.

One way our college is trying to help meet that goal is through our Business and Information Systems Division, which has developed a series of career-readiness certificate programs designed to help people enter and succeed in the workforce.

Each short-term program provides three important advantages:

College credit;

The option of earning an associate degree or transferring to complete a bachelor's degree program;

The necessary skills and techniques to perform effectively in the workplace.

These new certificate programs are part of an effort to upgrade and revise our entire business curriculum, and they were created to provide flexible solutions to meet each person's individual educational needs. Key areas include business, accounting and information technology.

Business

In business, certificates are available in Business Essentials, Business Technology, Marketing, Business Administration and Human Resources Management.

As an example of the programs, the Business Essentials Certificate provides basic business knowledge for obtaining entry-level employment in business operations or management. People who complete the program can count on learning the basic skills necessary for a solid employment foundation, including development of an employer-ready resume and help in preparing for the interview process.

The program includes professional and communication skills, enhancement of business math skills and basic accounting, as well as a focus on some important but often-overlooked qualities, including:

Work ethic;

Attitude;

Attire;

Professional courtesy.

Accounting

In accounting, those who enroll can earn a certificate in one of three fields Business Essentials, Office Accountant or Accounting.

Any of these options can give a person the skills and confidence they need to work in accounting in a variety of environments.

The program provides course work for students planning to transfer to four-year institutions as well as for those wanting to update their skills. Each course is consistent with industry-recognized competency testing criteria, so it meets the needs of local employers, their employees and the community at large.

Information technology

In Information Technology, we're now offering certificates in the areas of IT, Computer Information Systems, and Web Development and Graphic Arts.

Our technology in these fields meets or exceeds industry standards and provides a solid learning platform for almost anyone's educational needs. Whether it's basic networking or advanced routing, designing high-quality graphics or creating dynamic Web sites, we believe you can get it done at GCCC.

The Information Technology Certificate courses show men and women the IT world from the ground up too, with a solid footing in networking technologies and operating systems, ranging from Vista to Linux.

Improvement through learning

While we might not often think of it this way, the role of business is really to make the world a better place, because it involves maintaining and creating wealth, prosperity, jobs and choices. Our new programs help people balance numbers with human concerns, understand big business and entrepreneurship, and focus on the relationships between business and the community. These values are particularly important to us at GCCC, because of the many partnerships our college shares with the business community of southwest Kansas.

If you're interested in any of the new certificate opportunities in business here at GCCC, then you don't have long to wait. Our fall classes will be getting under way in less than a month, on Aug. 19.

Enrollment is open all summer, in these and more than 70 other programs, with registration hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays at the Student and Community Services Center.

If you're thinking about starting or changing careers, or you're looking for a way to sharpen your skills in today's economy, just remember this at Garden City Community College, we mean business.

GCCC President Carol Ballantyne can be e-mailed at carol.ballantyne@gcccks.edu.