Needed skills being taught

Published 6:02am Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jefferson Davis Community College will continue to prepare students for manufacturing and technical jobs with employers like Airbus, which broke ground Monday on a facility in Mobile.

There are several courses offered at JDCC campuses in Brewton and Atmore where students can finish with a certificate they can show directly to an employer upon completion, said Al Bennett, director of Workforce Development at JDCC.

A new program, Industrial Engineering Technology, includes classes in AC/DC fundamentals, instrumentation, motor control, programmable logic controls and hydraulics and pneumatics.

Bennett said the new program is mobile and has five labs that can be taken to any of five community colleges, including Bishop State in Mobile, Faulkner State in Bay Minette, Reid State in Evergreen, Alabama Southern in Monroeville and JDCC. The labs rotate to each school every eight weeks.

After 40 weeks a student will receive a certificate in the program, Bennett said.

He said the program was added almost three years ago after manufacturing jobs began to increase in southwest Alabama.

“There wasn’t a lot of demand here for industrial employees until about 10 years ago,” he said. “That’s when we started to get large factories down here. At that time some of the schools offered it, but not to a large extent.”

JDCC also offers a certificate course in welding, which is a field in high demand, Bennett said.

“People are crying for welders,” he said. “There is a vast need for welders in southwest Alabama.”

If a local manufacturer has a need for a specialized trade not offered by JDCC, Bennett said the school, through a statewide network of Workforce Development centers, can design a program to meet those needs.

“We can offer anything,” Bennett said. “If I have a customer who comes to me and asks ‘can you train students in underwater basket weaving…or whatever,’ we can do it.”

Bennett said the school hasn’t yet been contacted by Airbus.

In addition to preparing students for manufacturing jobs, JDCC is also partnering with Faulkner State to develop a casino management class, Bennett said.

“It takes a specific type of knowledge for that work and it’s something you don’t see very often, especially in Alabama,” he said.

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