A leadership change at Ozarks Technical Community College’s Center for Workforce Development takes effect next month.
Sherry Coker was promoted to executive director of the center after its current leader Jim Abramovitz announced his retirement after four years in the role.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Abramovitz said by phone this morning. “I’m very proud of what the business solutions team especially has done.”
Coker, currently the center’s director of business development, will take the center’s top position effective July 1. The OTC Board of Trustees approved the promotion at its June 11 meeting.
“(Jim) has just done a really great job in elevating the standards of excellence for workforce development, and for me it’s just carrying on that tradition and legacy,” Coker said this morning. “I want to continue with relationship building and working to meet the needs of our area businesses.”
Abramovitz said over the course of this year, the Center for Workforce Development will provide training to between 2,700 and 3,000 students.
He cited restructuring the department into three divisions as one of the projects he’s most proud of during his tenure. The focus areas are continuing education, as well as technical and allied health care training.
“It’s all focused on getting people jobs and getting them the training they need for better jobs,” he said.
Abramovitz said a new program, Skill Up Missouri, is allowing OTC to provide workforce training to individuals receiving food stamps. Funding comes from the Department of Agriculture and state appropriations, he said, and so far this year, 24 students have received training.
“The governor was just here yesterday to sign that bill,” he said. “Students won’t have to pay anything.”
Abramovitz said Coker is poised to be a strong leader for the center, after growing the business solutions team and the center’s reputation in the business community.
“We’ve built a name. We’ve built a brand,” he said. “She’s really built that into a professional division.”
OTC’s Center for Workforce Development works with area businesses to determine jobs that need more skilled workers, he said, and the center is able to create training programs to meet the demand.
Coker signed a standard 12-month contract for her position, according to college spokesman Mark Miller, with an annual salary of $85,000.
“Our focus for the coming year specifically is going to be continued growth in our allied health care programs and for our contract training for our area technical leadership,” Coker said.
Cary Charles was promoted to succeed Coker as director of business development, Miller said. She had previously served since 2014 as business manager, and the center is looking to fill that position.
Abramovitz, 69, said he’s looking forward to retirement. He and his wife have planned a four-week vacation to Europe in August.
“We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” he said.
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