Elected officials, school officials, community leaders and more celebrated Thursday as Snead State Community College broke ground on a Workforce Skills Training Center designed to provide students from Northeast Alabama with career training to prepare them for jobs to come years will be in great demand.
Governor Kay Ivey, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Snead State Community College President Joe Whitmore, and others said the facility could change lives — and Snead State student Jake Knighten shared the story of one such life.
Knighten is a 2021 graduate of Boaz High School and will graduate from Snead State in May with a degree in Industrial Technology Systems Design.
During his junior year, he said, his plan was to skip college, get a job, “and work my way up.” Instead, after discussions with school counselors, he decided to try dual enrollment at Snead State.
This led to a paid apprenticeship program – and his ability to work full-time with Atrion Medical Products in Arabic while attending school in Snead.
“I was able to save enough money to buy me and my fiancé a house of our own when we get married,” Knighten said.
He prays that other young people will see the benefit of additional education rather than going straight into the workforce.
“There’s always more education that helps,” Knighten said.
Ivey said: “We recognize that the needs of our workforce are constantly evolving. When you change lives, you change families…neighborhoods…communities…the state…the nation.”
The project was a team effort: Aderholt was underway when Whitmore contacted his office for assistance. He was able to secure $1 million in federal dollars for the project — primarily to purchase the necessary equipment for the career and technical training and staff development programs the center will offer.
Funding from the state, the Alabama Community College System, and a land donation from the Marshall County Board of Education made the project possible.
Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker said this center is the first, but the system plans to have more such centers across the state.
“…This center will be dedicated to training for high-demand, high-paying jobs in our community,” Whitmore said. “I would like to thank our partners in this project for supporting this endeavor.
“We look forward to working with our business and industry representatives to provide much-needed education and training to better equip the workforce in our field,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming the first classes of students using the Workforce Skills Training Center.”
The 45,000 square foot center will be located adjacent to Marshall Technical School on US Highway 431 and will house four career and technical education programs including heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration; welding technology; machine tool technology; and industrial system technology with additive manufacturing.
In addition, the center will have adaptable and flexible premises to exchange programs needed by the local workforce.
A lab for engineering design and 3D manufacturing is also planned.