• In Arkansas, a partnership on steel-making boot camps
  • Preparing a workforce for new battery, charger facility
  • Expanding training for home, community-based healthcare services
  • Fast track to law enforcement jobs in Chicago

In Arkansas, a partnership on steel-making boot camps

With a $1.2 million state grant, a handful of Arkansas community colleges have partnered to create a steel-making boot camp to help create a workforce pipeline for steel companies in the region.

“In tandem” features new community college partnerships with business and industry, higher education institutions and others.

Over the past few years, Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas has become a significant steel-making hub, according to Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC), which received the state grant and signed a memorandum of agreement with several other area two-year colleges. Companies such as Big River Steel/U.S. Steel, Nucor-Yamato Steel, Nucor Steel Arkansas, Highbar Steel, Tenaris, Majestic Steel USA and others are expanding operations or constructing new plants.

“Creating a condensed training benefits the companies who have chosen to invest here and individuals looking for an in-demand, high-wage career,” said Cody Waits, director of the state’s Office of Skills Development, which provided the grant. He noted the funding covers training fees, materials and salaries so students can take advantage of the boot camp at no cost.

Graduates of the two-week, 80-hour boot camp will receive an OSHA-10 general industry certification, first aid/CPR certification and a certificate of program completion, according to the colleges. Each boot camp can accommodate 25 participants in a cycle.

The first-year ANC will offer 20 cohorts and partner with other colleges such as Black River Technical College, East Arkansas Community College, Arkansas State University-Newport and Arkansas State University Mid-South to offer another 22.

“This initiative will provide our steel industry with a far-greater pool of prepared job applicants, illustrating a truly regional approach to workforce and economic development,” said Christopher Heigle, president of ANC, which has been providing training for the steel industry for more than 25 years, including offering a two-year degree in steel industry technology.

Preparing a workforce for new battery, charger facility

Forsyth Technical Community College has announced a training partnership with John Deere Electric Powertrain, which will invest $69.6 million to establish its North American headquarters and build a battery and charger manufacturing facility in the town of Kernersville, North Carolina.

The new 115,000-square-foot facility — which is expected to create 50 jobs, from assemblers, material handlers and welders, to packagers and quality inspectors — will produce battery packs for high-performance and large, off-highway equipment applications. Forsyth Tech will work with John Deere on the NC Edge Customized Training Project, helping to grow and upskill its workforce. The initiative is designed to align employees’ skills with John Deere’s business goals and needs, particularly within advanced manufacturing, according to the college.

“Our collaboration reflects our shared values and commitment to fostering a cleaner future through manufacturing and technology,” said Janet Spriggs, president of Forsyth Tech.

John Deere, which has had a manufacturing presence in Kernersville since 1988, plans to break ground on the new facility this fall, and production is expected to begin in 2025.

“The town provides access to a diverse pool of technical talent from local trade and academic institutions and is well-connected to infrastructure, including highways, seaports and airports,” the company said in a release.

Expanding training for home, community-based healthcare services

Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has selected the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) to lead a statewide collaborative partnership with Arizona’s 10 community college districts that will focus on career development, education and training of the state’s long-term care and behavioral health workforces.

AHCCCS received more than $25 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding for workforce development and career education in the sector, particularly in home and community-based services (HCBS).

“This groundbreaking collaboration is a great example of how we can work together across systems to ensure Arizona’s healthcare needs are met while providing invaluable support for those seeking employment in the in-home healthcare field,” said Bettina Celis, MCCCD’s acting vice chancellor and provost of academic and student affairs.

As part of the collaboration, MCCCD will create and manage a scholarship and tuition assistance program for students and members of the HCBS workforce who are pursuing healthcare careers in behavioral health and long-term healthcare services, according to the district. MCCCD will also establish a committee with representatives from all college systems that will work with AHCCCS, health plans and the HCBS provider community to provide guidance and support for the career education and training partnership.

Additionally, MCCCD will develop a comprehensive, open-source, pre-service and in-service competency-based training program for the HCBS workforce.

Fast track to law enforcement jobs in Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is offering a short-term criminal justice program at no cost to participants that can provide a pathway to the Chicago Police Academy.

The “One Year and Out” program offers Chicago residents the opportunity to earn an associate of applied science degree with a focus in criminal justice in as few as 12 months, and then apply to the Chicago Police Academy with an opportunity to waive the department’s entrance exam.

“Diversity in our criminal justice system is essential for building trust and legitimacy in our communities and for ensuring that all members of society are treated with dignity and respect. That is why we are so proud to partner with the Chicago Police Department to offer a pathway that will help more Black and Latinx students consider a career in law enforcement,” said CCC Chancellor Juan Salgado.

The criminal justice program is offered through CCC’s Olive-Harvey College this fall, beginning August 24. The course is a 60-credit hour program that places a high emphasis on ethics, diversity, inclusion and critical thinking, according to the college. It will include a mix of in-person and online classes over eight-week terms.

Olive-Harvey College will offer additional support with laptops and book vouchers, as well as help preparing for police exams and other assessments. Students who earn a degree in criminal justice are also prepared for careers including air marshal, forensic science technician, fraud investigator, state trooper, crime scene investigator, computer forensics specialists, U.S. postal inspector, victims advocate, police dispatcher and more.

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