An internship at Intimidator Inc. led to a full-time career for University of Arkansas Community College Batesville graduate Aaron Smith. Aaron, who is now a product developer for Intimidator’s UTV line, started with the company as an intern working on a project detailing computer-aided drawings while earning his Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology.
“Construction companies are looking for people who are motivated and willing to learn more … construction is going to be a lot of multi-tasking. You’re not just on one project … five at one time or five spread out,” said NWACC alumna and 2018 Construction Technology grad Maria Garcia. “Honestly, make connections. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there. The work is out there. You just have to look.”
The bi-partisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, first proposed by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio in 2017, may have a new ally in President Donald Trump.
The bill, which aims to expand Pell Grant eligibility to include certain short-term job training programs, mirrors language used in the 2020 presidential budget. As part of his budget mission statement, Trump highlighted a commitment to "investing in America's students and workers," and listed Pell Grants as one of two key ways he planned to realize this goal.
A first-generation student whose parents are immigrants from El Salvador, Sergio grew up in Springdale and has always been interested in food and culinary arts. Following different experiences, he decided being a chef in a restaurant wasn't his ultimate goal. After graduating in 2017 from Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College providing culinary arts training, he is focused on working for a large corporation, and possibly traveling around the world, learning about food trends and production.
Companies across Arkansas are searching for skilled laborers to fill as many as 60,000 open positions. To qualify for these high-paying positions, laborers will need training that doesn’t necessarily require earning a four-year degree from a university. Arkansas’ community colleges and technical schools are providing the next wave of skilled laborers a shorter path to jobs and prosperity with a fraction of the debt.
January 9, 2019, marked the Topping Out Ceremony for NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s (NWACC) Integrated Design Lab (IDL) on the Bentonville campus. The ceremony celebrated the last beam placed on the structure, a milestone for the college.
The IDL will provide needed classroom and lab space for key academic programs in visual arts and construction technology - Both represent significantly growing career fields in the Northwest Arkansas. The structure will also house space that supports general fine arts, sculpture, ceramics and a Fab Lab with 3D printers, a CNC router, laser cutting equipment and other tools.
Saline County voters had passed a sales tax that will provide money for the Saline County Career and Technical Center, which will be devoted to high school students from the county's six school districts. The center will be about 120,000 square feet and serve approximately 500 students, said Angie Dischinger, Bryant's assistant superintendent of secondary education. Instruction will be provided by College of the Ouachitas staff and will count for college credit.
When Arkansas Northeastern College opened its new Center for Allied Technologies, it consolidated three facilities, enhanced its role as a leader in custom training and education and brought the world to its doorstep.
Built for more than $14 million, the center opened on the Blytheville campus at the outset of the school year and will offer customized training for the manufacturing industry, cohort programs in a number of fields and career-based programs for secondary students who can also earn college credit.
Jeremy Miller, of Dierks, Arkansas, is a graduate of the Power Technologies program at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana (UAHT). He chose UAHT because he received the AEP/SWEPCO Power Plant Technology Scholarship and the college was one of the few schools in the region to offer this unique program.
Hot Springs, Arkansas – National Park College (NPC) began a Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship approved Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Apprenticeship Program in 2017.
The College established the program with feedback from local HVAC contractors who expressed the need for an apprenticeship model of training. “We really need employees that can work during the day and go to school at night,” stated Jason Vincent of Grisham AireCare, who is currently serving as Chair of the NPC HVAC Apprenticeship Advisory Committee. “The apprenticeship model is beneficial to newer employees because they are getting not only classroom knowledge but hands-on experience in the field that reinforces what they are learning.”
NPC decided to close its one-year HVAC technical certificate program after enrollment declined with plans to restructure the program to better meet the needs of local industry. “We have been discussing the best format for this program with our local contractors for several months now, and everyone agreed that an apprenticeship model is the best way to ensure HVAC students receive the best possible training to prepare them for work in the field,” stated Kelli Albrecht, Vice President for Workforce and Strategic Initiatives. “We have received support from partners around the state, including our Department of Labor liaison, the state apprenticeship office, the state HVACR Association, and our local contractors.”
One unique aspect of this program is that pre-apprentices are allowed to participate in the classroom training, which means a student can begin classroom training before securing a job with a contractor. Local employers hope to use the program as a recruitment tool to hire apprentices.
Other opportunities may be incorporated for high school juniors or seniors that are interested in a career in HVAC and could include evening classes and hands-on experience with local contractors during the summer. Upon graduation, students could potentially work full time while they complete the apprenticeship.
Currently seven local HVAC contractors have agreed to send their newer employees to the HVAC Apprenticeship program, including Daniell Heat and Air, GTS, Grisham Air Care, City Plumbing, Heating and Electric, Climate Control Heating and Air Conditioning, Knox AC and Heating, and the Garland County Sheriff’s Office. The program may expand in the future to include more experienced employees that could benefit from a national credential. “Once a student completes the training they receive a national credential from the Department of Labor,” stated Albrecht. “This credential will allow students to work in any state as an HVAC Technician.”
The apprenticeship model of training is a combination of on-the-job training and related instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Nationally, apprenticeship programs have been on an upward trend in recent years. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 1,700 new apprenticeship programs were established nationwide in FY 2016. Arkansas has 88 active apprenticeship programs and saw 21 new programs in 2016 alone.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts demand for qualified, well-educated HVAC technicians will grow to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to BLS. The BLS expects the demand will be driven by commercial and residential building construction, the growing number of sophisticated climate-control systems, and increased emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction.
Enrollment for the NPC HVAC Apprenticeship Program will be ongoing throughout the year. Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact Community and Corporate Training for registration information at 501.760.4393 or 501.760.4135.