Vegas PBS GOAL to boost education

The introduction of Global Online Advanced Learning (GOAL), as well as the unveiling of a community computer lab of 21 free-to-use workstations designed to offer job training, GED testing and food- and alcohol-handling certifications, on Tuesday were the big reveals for Vegas PBS.

More than 115,000 people in 4,200 self-paced and instructor-led online courses on subjects such as business, information technology, health care and teaching were enrolled by GOAL in 2013. Medical records, pharmacy and paralegal training are among the most popular, according to Tom Axtell, general manager of Vegas PBS. An intersection of education, job training and economic development is represented by GOAL.

As Kristy Totten of Las Vegas Review Journal reports, a six-month dental assistant certification was recently completed by Mildred Sigala. Sigala was a dentist in her home country of Nicaragua. To again become a licensed dentist, completing the GOAL course is the first step in her journey. Axtell believes that though that is not a degree, it is a certificate that is "recognized by the trade association" and is "portable to all 50 states."

"It's less than a community college degree, so it's not a two-year degree, but it is a certificate," Axtell said. "It's recognized by the trade association. It's portable to all 50 states. These are not minimum wage jobs. They're all higher-paying jobs at a much more livable wage."

The state economic development office, the Southern Nevada Health District, the Nevada Restaurant Association and the Clark County School District are Vegas PBS' partners in the program. On the GOAL website, the health district and the Nevada Restaurant Association conduct their mandatory food handler safety and alcohol awareness courses. Hotel English, which helps workers who speak English as a second language improve their language skills, is offered by GOAL. In the past, Southern Nevada Health District's chief health officer, Joseph Iser, admitted that he didn't recognize how public health affected economic development but that "it does without a doubt."

"If we don't look out for the health and safety of our own folks, and we don't look out for the health and safety of all of our visitors," Iser said, "economic development will decline and people will quit coming here."

As Axtell put it, food safety training consisted of watching a video about food handling, but there was no test before going online. However, the cost was reduced and testing became mandatory when the process went online about a year ago.

According to Vegas PBS' workforce training and economic development director, Debra Solt, initial classes were offered in English and Spanish but have expanded to include Tagalog, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Arabic and soon, Cantonese.

To offer courses that enhance the state diversification office's seven targeted industries, Vegas PBS teamed up with the economic development office with an aim to develop GOAL. The seven industries include: mining, minerals and manufacturing; aerospace and defense; business information technology ecosystems; clean energy; health and medical services; logistics and operations; and tourism, gaming and entertainment.

01 30, 2014
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