Robotics Technology Park

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NACC Launches Its First Apprenticeship Program

For immediate release—June 30, 2015

In 2014, officials from Siemens in Fort Payne contacted the Workforce Development staff at Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) to explore the possibility of establishing an apprenticeship program for Machinists.  As we began to discuss a possible partnership, the college found that other companies were experiencing the same needs.  Meetings were held with officials from business and industry in DeKalb and Jackson counties.  A Consortium was formed, and was named the “Northeast Alabama Community College Tri-State Apprenticeship Consortium”, which developed this partnership.  The Consortium decided to branch out to neighboring states, Tennessee and Georgia, to further meet the demanding needs of our surrounding area.

“A key component of the mission of Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) as a college is to serve the business and industry community,” stated President Dr. David Campbell.  “Our staff and administrators are instructed to look for avenues of service, and this is a perfect example of how they are fulfilling their responsibilities.  This apprenticeship program, which is approved and endorsed by the college, is an excellent service to not only business and industry, but our students and the community as well.”

The apprenticeship program provides opportunities for students to receive a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training.  The Apprentice will gain valuable work experience with an employer while earning an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree.  Apprentices are paid by their employer for hours worked, and their wages will increase as they progress through the four year program.  Tuition and books are paid by the employer as well.  When the Apprentice graduates, he/she will receive a certificate of completion and will earn the highly skilled “Journey Worker” certificate from the US Department of Labor, Office of Registered Apprenticeship program.  “A Registered Apprenticeship is a win for the community, a win for the employer, and a win for the apprentice,” stated Mr. Ron Dixon, State Director for the Office of Apprenticeship.  

The Machinist Apprenticeship consortium currently consists of the following companies, who employ the below pictured Apprentices: Siemens, Plasman Corp LLC, Joe Scott & Associates Machinery, GH Metal Solutions and Dixie Machine Shop.  
“It’s important for business leaders and educators to work together to help students receive the training they need for today’s manufacturing jobs.  Training is part of our DNA at Siemens, and our participation in the consortium reflects our strong commitment to local skills-based learning, which will help create a pipeline of skilled machinists in the region,” said Robert Laquerre, Operations Manager at Siemens Fort Payne.

“As the technology utilized in manufacturing processes continues to advance, recruitment of qualified technicians becomes increasingly difficult.  Plasman Corp embraces and supports the Northeast Alabama Community College Tri-State Apprenticeship Program.  Participants of the program will face a challenging curriculum that will prepare them for the current and future job opportunities that exist in the manufacturing sector of Northeast Alabama,” stated Mr. Charles Watson, General Manager, Plasman Corp LLC.

“JSA Machinery is proud to be a partner with Northeast Alabama Community College in the student apprenticeship program,” stated Mr. Brian Keith, Project Manager at JSA Machinery.  “Northeast has a tradition of excellence in our community and is expanding that tradition to the local workforce.  By preparing students, not only in the class room but on the job as well, we are insuring that the Northeast Alabama area will continue to be a world leader in precision machining.  Only a few decades ago, young men and women from our area sent America to the moon and beyond; I have no doubt that this generation has the knowledge to exceed those milestones.  With Northeast, not only will they have the knowledge, but the skill set as well,” he concluded.  

“We are truly excited in being a part of this partnership with NACC, and equally excited at having an apprentice join our team,” stated Mr. Edwin Stanley, Vice President of GH Metal Solutions.  “Manufacturing is such a huge part of our economy, as European companies like Germany have understood for many years.  Germany has an outstanding apprenticeship program, and as I have spoken with industrial leaders there, they’ve thought it’s an outstanding program, as well,” he concluded.  

“We are pleased to invest in the education and skill level of a career minded person wanting to learn a trade,” stated Mr. Kevin Wagner, General Manager at Dixie Machine Shop.  “This program allows students a unique opportunity to mix the classroom with on-the-job training.  The outcome should help fill a shortage of skilled jobs that are needed for our community to continue growth,” he added.

 “These industry partners have been truly that, partners, and have worked with us to develop this program that , I am pleased to announce, has been recognized by the United States Department of Labor as a Registered Apprenticeship program,” stated Dr. Mike Kennamer, Director of Workforce Development at Northeast Alabama Community College.  “We are happy to have this designation for machinist, but are not stopping there.  I have asked our Coordinator of Work Experience programs, Ms. Nancy Griggs, to continue to pursue a registered apprenticeship status for our industrial maintenance program.  Once we get that, as you may guess, we will be working toward the next program and the next.  Let me say just a word about our consortium partners.  We have been working with this group over the past few months and I have been blown away by their willingness to invest in the lives of the citizens of our region.  While they are part of the consortium to fulfill a business purpose, they are truly excellent corporate citizens and members of our community,” he concluded.  

In celebration of National Apprenticeship week, March 9-13, Nancy Griggs, Consortium members and Apprentice visited a class at the Fort Payne High School to discuss apprenticeship opportunities.  Nancy, the Consortium and Apprentice plan on visiting all the schools in DeKalb and Jackson counties in the near future.

If you or your company would like to join the consortium or for more information about the Apprenticeship programs, please contact:
Nancy Griggs, Coordinator of Work Experience Programs
Northeast Alabama Community College
PO Box 159
Rainsville, AL 35986
256-228-6001 or 256-638-4418 Ext. 2217

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