Friday, September 25, 2015 | 1:09 AM
HANCEVILLE, Ala.—Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala. has been awarded a $748,965 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for “Winston County Works!,” a project to increase employability of Winston County residents through basic workplace skills training and advanced technical training in high-growth, high-demand automotive manufacturing fields.
“The potential for the Winston County residents to increase their standard of living through education and workforce skills attainment is great, and in order to meet the demand for a highly skilled workforce in this sector, the expansion of training opportunities will equip residents with marketable skills and training on the most current technology,” said Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey Karolewics.
Winston County, located in north west central Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachians, is classified as a distressed area by the ARC, a federal program aimed at strengthening the capacity of people in the historically and systemically economically depressed area of the United States to compete in the global economy. In Winston County, 24 percent of the population lives below the poverty level, and the average median household income is $32,900.
“I’m excited about this grant because the better education and training we can get for our folks, the more opportunities we will have for them to get better jobs and make more money,” said Winston County Circuit Clerk J.D. Snoddy. “Good things are already happening in our county due to the partnership we’ve developed with Wallace State. Just the other day, two people from the Ready to Work program got good jobs. It’s given them a whole new outlook on life.”
Wallace State’s Ready to Work program, which provides basic and soft skills training for the workplace, currently operates two sites in Winston County. The Winston County Works! program will allow for expansion of these sites.
Ready to Work instructors will partner with the college’s Adult Education program in Winston County, local industries, Career Centers and the court system to enroll participants in the program. As participants complete the Ready to Work program they will be assisted with entry into Wallace State’s award-winning technical programs, supported by scholarship assistance where eligible.
Technical training offered through Wallace State will include machine tool technology and computer numerical control, tool and die, drafting and design technology (engineering technology) and welding, all of which are essential to the automotive manufacturing industry. The addition of a mobile training unit will allow the college to offer these programs on site in Winston County, utilizing project based learning, and collaborative project experience to simulate the work environment.
Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to earn industry recognized certificates and credentials such as NATEF, AWS, NC3 and NIMS.
Wallace State’s technical program directors will assist with job placement and throughout the program — from training to completion to employment — participants will receive guidance and support from Wallace State Success Coaches.
Winston County Works! is expected to serve 250 workers/trainees over 18 months initially. Funding for the project will be supplemented by institutional and Alabama Workforce Development funds.
“We are grateful for the continued support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and their commitment to programs that serve the Appalachian area,” said Suzanne Harbin, Wallace State Advancement Director, who will oversee the grant.