The Columbia Area Career Center offers a variety of learning opportunities including:
- college credit for high school students
- community classes
- health occupation training
- GED prep
- ESL classes
- "summer camps," classes for children over the summer
The career center is a branch of Columbia Public Schools that has served the community for decades. Although its 4203 S. Providence Road location was established in 1979, most of the center's programs have existed much longer. For example, the professional and community education program celebrated its 50th year of operation in 2006.
In its current form, the education program is broken into three different branches, its lead supervisor, Jim Sharrock, said.
First, enrichment, or “leisure-learning” classes, offer opportunities such as dance, finance, woodworking and other self-improvement courses.
Second, workforce development aims to give people skills to get a job or to better equip them for their existing job. These are courses that grant individuals certificates in career fields such as practical nursing and heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC). The career center’s programs are shorter and involve fewer general education classes than similar programs offered at community colleges.
Third, the adult learning center teaches literacy, English as a second language and GED preparation. The adult learning center prepares many people to take the certificate classes, Sharrock said.