CTNA announces Continental University at Mt. Vernon facility

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Continental Tire North America recently announced the official launch of Continental University at its facility in Mt. Vernon, Ill. The program formalizes a current pilot program with Rend Lake College designed to gives all employees the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree onsite, and expands the program to allow students to receive a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“We’ve been pleased to make capital investments in our Mt. Vernon facility over the past few years totaling more than $160 million, and today I’m equally pleased to announce a direct investment in the education and professional growth of our employees through Continental University,” says Heinz-Gerhard Wente, executive board member and global head of human resources for CTNA’s parent company, Continental AG. “It is a meaningful program that promotes higher education and advances employees’ career paths at Continental, and one that also promotes the exchange of knowledge and ideas and cultivates a high-performance culture in the workplace.”

Continental University is a program based on partnership between CTNA and local colleges and universities designed to provide employees with easy and affordable access to higher education. Its mission is to contribute to the development and career advancement of employees, and to align their studies with CTNA’s business needs. The concept was created by Continental AG’s corporate headquarters in 2005, and so far, universities have been launched in nine other facilities, including those in Mexico, the Philippines and Romania. Continental University connects Continental on a worldwide scale, and the Mt. Vernon program is the first in the United States.

Under the Continental University program, all employees are eligible to attend classes onsite at CTNA that are timed around work schedules. In Mt. Vernon, CTNA and RLC have run a tuition-free pilot program in the facility since 2005, where CTNA has provided classroom space and, together with RLC, state-of-the-art equipment for students’ use. In addition to earning an associate’s degree in business, employees also can receive course certifications, as well as participate in continuing education classes and employee training initiatives. CTNA says the announcement solidifies its relationship with RLC by bringing this current program under the official Continental University program, and builds on it by adding a new occupational certificate program in tire building.

“Rend Lake College is thrilled to officially join the Continental University network and to support CTNA’s commitment to higher education and advancement of employees,” says RLC President Mark Kern. “CTNA’s Mt. Vernon facility is a mainstay in our community, and we look forward to a long partnership for many years to come.”

In addition to the RLC partnership, the Continental University program has been expanded through a new partnership with SIUC. Under the expansion, CTNA will offer all employees the opportunity to achieve a bachelor’s degree in technical resource management. Classes will begin online this fall, and SIUC instructors will begin to teach onsite at CTNA by spring 2008. Many participating employees will receive tuition reimbursement from CTNA to offset the cost of the bachelor’s program.

“This new program will provide the employees of CTNA direct access to the resources of our university, giving them the tools they need to obtain a bachelor’s degree without leaving their workplace,” says SIU President Glenn Poshard. “This is an exciting announcement and is part of our overall commitment to serve the southern Illinois region. We are proud to partner with Rend Lake College and the leadership of Continental Tire North America in this valuable service to their employees.”