As Georgia’s workforce ebbs and flows, Lanier Technical College moves with it.
For the sixth year in a row, the multi-campus college has experienced 100% job placement among its graduates. Tim McDonald, who was recently named president of Lanier Tech, said the school has also obtained significant enrollment milestones, reaching 5,045 in fall 2020, an increase of 318 students from spring 2020, when the pandemic hit. For spring 2021, the college has 4,664 students signed up for courses.
“The three highest enrollment semesters in the history of the college happened in the last four semesters,” McDonald said. “Hitting the 5,000 student milestone is just tremendous. We had put out some projects a year earlier, and we were projecting the 5,000 enrollment mark to happen in 2022.”
Over the past year, McDonald said he has also admired the way his faculty and staff responded to the pandemic. In spring 2021, he said Lanier Tech switched in a week’s time from face-to-face instruction to 100% online. Today the college offers a combination of the two.
“It was so very inspired to see that kind of effort being put forth with the primary mission to continue our education and continue workforce development,” McDonald said. “I’m also equally proud of our students who see the benefit of technical education, and the career opportunities in our community that are offered to graduates, whether from an allied health field, advanced technology engineering field or business services.”
For the spring semester, 1,200 of students at Lanier Tech include those in dual enrollment, some of which take their courses on campus. These high schoolers are from 10 Georgia counties, many of which come from Gainesville and Hall County schools.
“Around 26% of total enrollment is dual enrollment, and we’ve been right around that mark for several years,” McDonald said. “It’s a great opportunity for high school students to do career exploration and get them in a college environment.”
In early February, Lanier Tech launched a quality control technician apprenticeship program, which is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor through the college’s economic development department.
McDonald said the training curriculum for the program has been developed from a consortium of local companies including Bitzer US, IMS Gear, King’s Hawaiian, Murray Plastics, Ranger Manufacturing, Tsubaki Nakashima and Freudenberg NOK.
“It’s in response to companies,” McDonald said. “We’ve heard from them over the last couple of years. We’ve pulled companies together and said, ‘OK, tell us what you need, and we’ll develop a curriculum based on that.’”
Among Lanier Tech’s many options, McDonald said one of the greatest benefits to the college includes its adult education program, which allows people of all ages to earn a high school equivalency diploma.
McDonald said the college knows that life happens, and not everyone is able to obtain their high school diploma in the traditional way. He encourages anyone who hasn’t earned the certification to reach out to Lanier Tech and give this program a shot.
“If you know someone who doesn’t have a high school diploma, that’s a very basic credential that will get you in the door for many job opportunities,” McDonald said. “Be a champion in their life to help them get into the workforce. We have folks in there who may be 20 or 62, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of everybody’s life.”