AIDT Will Continue to Offer Essential Skills and Manufacturing Fundamentals Courses
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
Simply put, if a company has a workforce-related issue, the Alabama Industrial Development Training program will step in and do what is necessary. Yes, it’s that simple. All a company needs to do is contact AIDT and watch the agency respond. “Our objective, and it’s always the same for AIDT, is if a company says there is a need, our job is to solve it when it comes to their workforce,” AIDT Director Ed Castile said.
And there is no charge to the company nearly all the time. If AIDT does not have the expertise to solve the workforce issue, then the agency would hire an instructor and the company would pay that cost divided by the number of participants. There is some current training going on that does include a $15 charge for lunch. If a college is involved in the training, there will be costs, but the schools are “committed to make that as reasonable and as palatable as they can for the companies,” Castile said. He said that 90 percent of the current training is at no cost because AIDT is able to conduct it.
“We can set these things up all day long and if nobody is coming, it doesn’t do us any good,” Castile said, about current training programs. “We’ve got to fix it so it’s OK for (companies) to send people.”
That’s why the frequently requested soft skills training sessions in conjunction with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce are six, four-hour modules to make it easier on smaller companies to send employees for training. That training is held at the Montgomery Chamber Business Resource Center.
Soft skills training includes sessions on communicating with co-workers, supervisors and customers; remaining calm under pressure; problem solving; how to build your team; educating team leaders, supervisors and managers; communication skills; and teamwork and motivation techniques.
Another current training program under way is manufacturing fundamentals, a six-week course. Each week consists of 40 hours and participants must pass the first two weeks to continue. The first week includes sessions on math and conversions, computer, precision measurement and blueprint reading. Week two includes sessions on OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), forklift, overhead crane and arc flash. Weeks three through six can vary in order and can be substituted, but now are basic electricity, basic welding, basic programmable logic controllers (hard drives for robotics) and basic robotics.
Remember that companies came to AIDT and requested training in those areas and that training will continue next year, Castile said. For now the program is just for employees, but will be expanded at some point to include non-employees, he said.
Castile would like to see greater participation in the training programs, but understands that issues come up at work. There are 10 to 12 people who sign up for a class, but fewer show up. AIDT will not cancel the class even if just six or seven people show up.
“Good sense might tell you that you should (cancel),” Castile said. “At the end of the day my goal is, ‘By golly, we’re going to do this training because that’s what you said and you told us that’s what you need.’ We need you to send people. We just would love to see more (people) and I think over time we’ll get there.”
He said that there is a perception problem of AIDT not conducting the training programs it said it would. “The perception is wrong,” Castile said. “Again, people have to understand we are going to do it. We are delivering and there is a multitude of partners that can deliver. We’ll just see where it all goes.”
When asked about new programs for next year, Castile responded: “Whatever they (company officials) tell us.”0
Turning Up the Volume on Programs
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
Now that H. Councill Trenholm State Community College has shed “Technical” from its former name there has been a major impact not only on the current fall semester, but the fall 2016 semester as well.
With its accreditation, Trenholm can begin to offer the two-year Associate of Art (AA) degrees and Associate of Science (AS) degrees, but must expand its course offerings next fall. The college currently offers typical general education courses that are required of freshmen such as English, math, psychology, physiology, anatomy, biology, music and computer classes.
In fall 2016, courses in history, speech, physics and perhaps chemistry will be added. Those classes are necessary for students to complete their two-year degree, but Trenholm plans to introduce new programs as well. Those are still to be determined, but could be pre-engineering or pre-nursing, according to Trenholm President Sam Munnerlyn. To complete the AA or AS degree in pre-engineering or pre-nursing or veterinarian science, students would need to fulfill their general education requirements and take courses in their selected field. Those degrees require 60 credit hours, which are transferrable to all colleges and universities in the state.
“What we’re trying to do is make these courses more (attractive) to people and that’s why pre-engineering and the prefix is so important,” Munnerlyn said. “If we say we’re offering pre-engineering that sounds better than just general education. We say we offer pre-engineering and that means that you can come and take those first two years here and transfer (the credits) to Auburn for their engineering program. That means that you took all your general education courses here.”
One new program that will be introduced is respiratory therapy. The medical community told Trenholm officials that there is shortage of respiratory therapists not only in the River Region, but surrounding areas. “We don’t start a program unless we’ve done a survey to find out that there is a need,” Munnerlyn said.
Baptist Health is working with Trenholm on the respiratory therapy program. The two organizations have worked in the past to bring a sonography program and a radiology program to Trenholm.
It will take about two years for students to graduate with a respiratory therapy degree and the median national salary is $56,000. Students will also need to pass an exam to receive their license. The duties of a respiratory therapist include monitoring, measuring and administering oxygen therapy at both in-patient and out-patient facilities and monitoring all the respiratory equipment at a hospital.
For Trenholm, adding general education courses is much cheaper than buying equipment for a technical program, as the requirements are an instructor, classroom and what the instructor needs. “The equipment costs an astronomical amount of money, so you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck,” Munnerlyn said.
Trenholm is bringing back its barbering program as part of its cosmetology program, Munnerlyn said. The college does have a barbering class, but is expanding it into a program. He said the school stopped offering the program a few years ago, but “now we are finding from our different surveys it’s something we need to do again.”
A new short-term certificate for a pharmacy technician will be introduced in the spring and a student may attend Trenholm for six months to get the certificate, Munnerlyn said.0
New Home for Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
AIDT will have space inside the Montgomery Preparatory Academy for Career Technologies (MPACT) in fall 2016 when the school opens at One Center.
The agency will have a shop/lab area, classroom and office area, according to AIDT Director Ed Castile, who is also the Deputy Commerce Secretary in charge of the Workforce Development Division. The Alabama Technology Network (ATN) will also have space inside the school and the two will share space, Castile said. “We will be shoulder-to-shoulder with ATN, trying to work with businesses in the area,” Castile said.
AIDT’s space is actually the Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center, whose partners include Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Community College System, Region 7 Workforce Council as well as ATN, Montgomery Public Schools and Auburn University at Montgomery.
The renovation cost for AIDT’s space will be less than $500,000 and Castile said that it should be in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. “It is a great investment for us to what we think we’ll get out of working with MPS (Montgomery Public Schools) students – helping them find their career paths,” Castile said.
“Being able to work and line things up with MPS is really why we are over there,” Castile said from his office, which is across the street from MPACT.
The school will be able to use AIDT equipment from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and after the school day, AIDT will be able to use the school’s equipment. He said that AIDT “was in lockstep” with school officials.
AIDT will offer a high-level, industrial maintenance program at the Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center, according to Castile. He said it will enhance the program at H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, which is next door to AIDT. The AIDT program “will be more industry specific maintenance training,” Castile said.
Once AIDT is set up inside MPACT, the agency will ask companies what they need. “Let’s nail down exactly what we’re missing in the people that you have currently and what you want to see in the future and then we are going to focus specifically on those areas,” Castile said.