WKCTC opens new Business Immersion Center

Meeting needs of business and industry through soft skills and technology preparation

Paducah, KY (11/22/2019) — More than 75 business leaders, community members, students, faculty and staff at West Kentucky Community and Technical College attended the grand opening of the college's new Business Immersion Center on November 21. The center is located on the second floor of Rosenthal Hall, which houses the college's business administration courses.

Innovate, collaborate, engage, inspire and immerse are key action words at the heart of the new center's mission to prepare business students for the ever-changing workforce through a collaborative, innovative workspace and soft skills development.

"We are envisioning this space to help student with...essential skills...where our students are more able to easily adapt and be flexible in the 21st century, which is really going to be required for them to be successful," said Britton Shurley, WKCTC dean of humanities, fine arts, and social sciences. "Ultimately, that's going to help them be stronger leaders in their community and stronger workers in the economy."

Allison Smith, WKCTC's business administration and logistics program coordinator, referenced a LinkedIn survey that stated 89 percent of those who responded said "When a new hire doesn't work out, it is because of their soft skills and not because of their technical skills." She said working closely with their business advisory boards, "We have made soft skills development a priority across the business administration curriculum at WKCTC so our graduates are successful and professional in the workplace." Soft skills include work ethic, flexibility and adaptability, teamwork, communication, and problem solving.

Data has shown students are more engaged, work-ready, and creative when their classrooms are transformed into areas modeled after today's modern workplace. Smith explained Google, renowned for innovative workspace designs, believes in a culture of "casual collision," meaning those who sit together, work together, so much so their productivity increased by 15 percent.

Following that idea, the WKCTC Business Immersion Center allows the college's business program to bring enhanced technology and innovation into the classroom while surrounding students with a collaborative, creative workspace. Workplace-based simulations immerse business students into a work-ready community insuring they have the skill set needed for economic growth throughout the region, as well as building an entrepreneurial spirit and fostering relationships with businesses and government entities for internships and employment opportunities.

Business administration student Kylie Cavanah of Paducah said the way of learning in the center is a more hands-on, discussion-driven classroom approach that is making a difference for her.

"There is definitely something to be said for doing things hands on in the classroom. It helps you retain the information more," said the 23-year-old, Cavanah, who is set to graduate from WKCTC with an associate in arts degree at next month's commencement ceremony. "It helps you understand in a different way, in a different aspect, and gives you a real-world visualization."

Speaker Patrick Stephens, a Marine Corps veteran and fellow business administration student, agreed as he compared what the Business Immersion Center has to offer with the way he trained and worked with all branches of the military during his service.

"We empower small unit leaders and front-line leaders to make decisions and have the skills, the assets and the authority necessary to do things and act in realtime on the battlefield," said Stephens. "The same is true for the business world. We also have to empower our employees and our leaders on the front line to make decisions, to be able to work together in teams, to be able to have that kind of leadership. It means a lot...to be a part of a business program that shares those same values and is striving to translate that to the future leaders in our community."

For more information about WKCTC's Business Immersion Center or business program, contact Allison Smith at allison.smith@kctcs.edu.

Media Attachments

Allison Smith, WKCTC business administration and logistics program coordinator, welcomes crowd to the grand opening of WKCTC's Business Immersion Center November 21.

Left to Right: WKCTC President Anton Reece presents Patrick Stephens, a business administration student and Marine Corps veteran, with gifts of appreciation for his comments during the grand opening of the college's Business Immersion Center. Allison Smith, WKCTC business administration and logistics program coordinator, happily shares in Stephens' recognition.

Randall Blackburn from CFSB in Paducah listens intently as business administration student Kylie Cavanah explains the marketing simulation she is working on during WKCTC's grand opening of its Business Immersion Center November 21.