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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       4/12/2019

                                                                                                (By Lisa Garrett)

PENDLETON --- Jon Cole was in the 10th grade when he dropped out of high school and admittedly “started out down the wrong path.”

“I didn’t think I had a future,” said Jon, until he got clean and sober and pursued his GED in June 2018 through Anderson County 1 and 2 Adult Education.

Today, with a manufacturing credential in hand and a full-time job at Wilson Engineering in Piedmont, Jon knows his career possibilities are endless.  He says it all started with completing the I-BEST program at Tri-County Technical College.

The I-BEST programs are designed to increase the College’s focus on unemployed and underemployed populations. The I-BEST program is a one-semester program that allows students to explore careers in manufacturing, health care or a stand-alone course for college and career exploration opportunities.  The tuition-free program offers opportunities to earn college credit and national (industry recognized) skill certifications.

With support from their instructors, as well as College staff, students learn how to advance their careers with additional education and understand the type of job performance employers value – and reward.

Jon enrolled in three college classes (COL 120 and MFG 101 and 102) through the I-BEST Manufacturing Pathway program.

“The program shows you how far you can go and it gives you the drive you need,” said Jon.

After receiving his GED through Adult Education, he started I-BEST classes in the fall. “Instructor Melinda Hoover and Julianne DiCicco-Wiles (I-BEST program director) gave me a firm foundation and nurtured the seed they planted,” he said.

He completed the classes and earned his Manufacturing Production I      certificate in December 2018.

The sole provider for his family, he attended classes while working full time.  “It was hard but I knew I wanted to take it to the next level,” he said. “I made sacrifices and worked hard and it all paid off,” he said, with support from his wife and parents.

He admitted there were moments of self doubt in the beginning.  “I was scared of the unknown.  No success is easy. But it only gets better from here. Now I know you’re almost crazy not to pursue the program.  You’re not losing anything – maybe your time  -- but you’re gaining so much more,” he said.

“And it’s free – you can’t beat the price,” he added. 

The I-BEST classes are funded by state workforce development funds.

“Actually, the class was so much fun that it made me want to continue my education,” said Jon who chose to continue his education in the associate degree Welding curriculum at Tri-County’s Industrial Technology Center in Sandy Springs.

“Welding instructors are just as cool as the I-BEST instructors,” said Jon. 

His college courses from I-BEST, along with OSHA 10 General Industry Standards Training and Lean Manufacturing Yellow Belt certification, are all beneficial for his resume and the skill set he is building.

During the semester, I-BEST students participate in hands-on, on-site learning experiences in four area industries so when they graduate they have a better understanding of key processes in manufacturing and where they might be interested in working.

Jon also took advantage of the varied resources at Tri-County, such as career services who helped with writing a resume. “They made my life easier - as did the tutors in math. There is endless help here and we -- I-BEST students - have access to all of it,” he said. 

“This is a real college program that gives you the building blocks for a career.”

Interested persons can inquire about free information sessions about the I-BEST program by calling 864-646-1481 or or at the website at Personal Care Aide, Manufacturing and Smart Start Over pathways classes will be offered this summer.