WyoTech's departure

Dec 8, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

The announcement last month that WyoTech, the Laramie-based vocational training center, is closing in 2018, creates an immediate shortage of available instruction for students who normally would embrace the WyoTech program.

It wasn't long before rumors begin swirling, one of them so persistent that Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne had to make a public announcement that no, it is not buying WyoTech.

The rumor wasn't hard to understand, however. The unwelcome and unexpected departure of WyoTech, which is a private, for-profit business, could well create an opportunity for Wyoming's seven community colleges. Here in Fremont County, Central Wyoming College might have an added leg up in attracting some of the would-have-been WyoTech trainees.

CWC already has a somewhat similar degree program under the general heading automotive technology. Our college, like most others in the Rocky Mountain region, is facing an enrollment plateau that's been difficult to pierce. So, any news that an institution offering similar training is closing has potential for bringing students who might have gone to WyoTech to the community college instead.

What's the possible added advantage for CWC? Wind River Job Corps. The federal job training center a mile west of CWC's main campus in Riverton also has fallen short of its initial enrollment goals. Two-plus years into its existence, Job Corps is looking for an enrollment spark as well.

One of the positives of the local Job Corps experience so far is the cooperative relationship it is building with Central Wyoming College. Communication between the two institutions is good, with CWC generally viewing Job Corps not as a competitor, but as a partner in its mission to provide better life through education.

It's easy from the outside to assume that students who were considering the WyoTech option seamlessly could translate their focus to CWC and/or Job Corps. But it would be far more complicated than making a U-turn on Interstate 80 and heading northwest to Riverton. College is different from WyoTech, and both college and WyoTech are different from Job Corps

Still, if a few students could make that transition work, and are interested in trying, the proximity of the Wind River Job Corps to Central Wyoming college might provide new avenues worth pursuing -- for the students, the college and Job Corps. Chances are it's being explored from all sides already.

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