Lake Land starts program with China

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Lake Land College administrators are trying to start their first overseas workforce development program with China as a way to help the country combat its skilled labor shortage.

James Hull, the vice president for academic services at Lake Land, said as of now, the program is “concept only.”

Individuals in Hong Kong proposed the concept to them.

The reason for this program is because Henan, a province of China, is facing a shortage of skilled labor.

“A lot of students are graduating universities with a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a lot of jobs available for graduates,” Hull said.

He said the program would involve a lot of technical jobs to fix this problem, and one man he talked to has worked with the U.S. Navy.

“He likes the idea of U.S. involvement,” Hull said. “Oversight will help build technically skilled workers.”

One of the professors at Eastern has connections in China, and he approached Lake Land about the opportunity for workforce training in China.

Hull has maintained this connection with China, even touring the Henan province, where he met with educational leaders.

Those working on the program at Lake Land now hope to host delegates from Kaifeng University in spring.

“We hope to establish a partnership that will lead to more students in China coming to the United States, specifically at Lake Land and Eastern,” Hull said.

This will work by having students receive one or two years of skilled labor training in China, then transferring either to Lake Land or Eastern.

Hull said the transfers would be done based on the students’ needs.

“The transfers will happen as it is necessary or desired on the part of the student,” Hull said. “We hope the partnership gets everyone involved and opens the pipeline for more international students from China.”

When the delegates come to Illinois they will meet with educational leaders at Lake Land and Eastern. The leaders will also show them the main places in the area, such as farms, businesses and the high school.

Hull said they would get a final sense of the types of programs beneficial to them as they look to create this skilled workforce in China.

These programs include agriculture and possibly healthcare.

“They’ll be technical fields,” Hull said.

The program will be a result of a three-way partnership between Kaifeng University, Hong Kong, and the colleges.

Kaifeng will provide the students space and facilities; Hong Kong will provide the funding, and the colleges will provide classes.

“We’re using this three-way partnership to reach our objectives,” Hull said.

Hull said he wants to make sure each of the three partners has good funding and good benefits for each of three partners.

To make this concept a reality, some procedural and regulatory hurdles need to be taken care of.

Lake Land will need to get permission from the Illinois Community College Board and the Higher Learning Commission to go ahead with these programs.

“We have to approach the state organizations overseeing the program, get permission and access to funding,” Hull said.

All of this will probably take another two years to get the program fully operational.

“The benefit to us is helping another educational institution, even in China,” he said.

Hull said if the opportunity rises, Lake Land would be interested in expanding its overseas workforce development program to other countries.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]