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Inyo County Office of Education

One old train of thought tells young people to “sow their wild oats,” “get it out of their system before they have to grow up”. The problem with that concept is how do you get back on track once those oats have been sown and you’re stuck with no diploma, no job and no prospects.

The Inyo County Office of Education (ICOE) has a solution with its new Job Spot, an adult education center partnership with Cerro Coso Community College. Molly Trauscht, an adult ed teacher, made a formal presentation of the program at this week’s Bishop City Council meeting.

Proposed by ICOE Superintendent Barry Simpson in early 2020, the goal is to formalize adult education, Trauscht explained.  The program just completed its first academic year with 127 students. Three of those students recently graduated.

Funding for what is a network of relationships comes from the Kern Adult Education Consortium. One obvious complexity in Inyo, Trauscht pointed out, is the fact the program will be serving the largest geographic area of any other adult ed program in California.

Assembly Bill 104 outlines the broad priority areas, focusing on both individual employable skills and helping parents help their children succeed in school. Those employable skills would pull residents out of minimum wage jobs and into careers that pay a livable wage. Another plus: the program can give students the confidence to continue their education at a junior or four-year college.

While the format can be entirely off-site with Zoom, the plan is to establish a satellite location in Lone Pine as well as the Main Street store front in Bishop. The idea, especially for the Lone Pine location, is to form a sense of student community—a valuable part of the whole education process.

So what can the Inyo residents do to help the program work to everyone’s advantage? The answer came from Allan Pietrasanta, chair of the Sierra Business Council. “The program needs input on what skills employers are looking for,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the City and County to work together.”

Inyo County’s Business Resource Center, scheduled to be open by January 2022, is best described as a start-up business incubator. The Center is just a few doors north of the Job Shop location. Hypothetically, once both are up and running, a local can take advantage of the Resource Center to get a business off the ground, then head to the Job Shop to match his or her employee needs with locals working through the adult education program.

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