Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Center for Workforce Education at Fairmont State Community & Technical College is offering a new short-term program that provides training for employment as a protection officer. This 80-hour course provides the skills and knowledge to perform the roles, duties and responsibilities of the protection officer.

"Students will find that the program provides a broad understanding of the private security industry," said Paul Schreffler, Director of Economic Development & Workforce Education at Fairmont State. "It will also significantly improve the job performance and job enjoyment of those presently working in the field, who strive for high levels of career achievement and who hope to gain a broader understanding of the principles of asset protection in the interest of the public, clients and employees."

Mark Finkenbinder, an owner of Pearson Investigation & Security Company, has provided scholarship funds for students who will start the program in April.

"We're sending employees to this program to get the training they need. Our goal is to improve the professionalism of our current operation, and we feel that this training program will help meet this goal," he said.

The 80-hour non-academic-credit training program is designed to prepare individuals to take the national certification exam to become a Certified Protection Officer (CPO). The certification, offered by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO), can be achieved after successfully completing the program and passing the independent IFPO examination. The principal instructor for the program, Dean Van Bibber, is a Certified IFPO Instructor and an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Homeland Security for Fairmont State Community & Technical College.

Evening classes will be held at the Center for Workforce Education in downtown Fairmont. The classes are scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The course will begin on April 4 and run until May 18. Two Saturdays (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) will also be required to complete the course. Students will spend these two days (May 6 and 13) on the firing range to complete the firearms portion of the course. The certification exam is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, May 23.

A high school diploma or GED is required. No experience in the security field is required to take the course, but candidates must be a minimum of 18 years of age. Candidates will be administered and must pass a physical exam, drug screening and background check before acceptance into this program.

"Opportunities exist in our area for people with these specialized skills. Companies like Pearson Investigation & Security provide contracted security services to other firms," Schreffler said.

"The benefits gained by the employer or the prospective employee through completion of this program are significant. For the employer, the knowledge that they have an effective, well-trained and skilled security force that, when needed, will be able to respond to challenging situations with competence and professionalism is a competitive advantage. The employee gains the benefits of a higher level of training at low cost, confidence in their skills and knowledge to assure adequate performance on the job and an opportunity to gain an internationally recognized certification."

"We're providing funding to our current employees to enroll in the course, but we're also looking toward the future expansion of our business," Finkenbinder said. "We can see that that this program will also serve to provide a qualified pool of potential employees to meet that growth. Our company is already employing students and graduates of Fairmont State's Criminal Justice program, and we are highly impressed with the quality and professionalism that these students have displayed."

Tuition for the program is $850. Financial assistance is available for those who meet income guidelines, through the West Virginia Higher Education Part-Time Student (HEAPS) Grant Program.

For more information, call the Center for Workforce Education at Fairmont State at (304) 367-4920. Additional information, a detailed class schedule and registration forms are located on the Center's web site at: http://www.pierpont.edu/ce. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.