North AlabamaWorks and partners participated in the inaugural 2022 Work-Based Learning Summit held in Birmingham, Alabama.  The conference focused on the importance of collaboration and partnership as an integral part of the work-based learning system. Speakers included:

  • Nick Moore, Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation
  • Rachel Hirsch, National Governor’s Association
  • Dr. Eric Mackey, Alabama State Department of Education
  • Audrey Webb, Alabama Community College System
  • Dr. Robin McGill, Alabama Commission on Higher Education
  • Faye Nelson, Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Karen Jenkins, Alabama Department of Rehabilitative Services
  • Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama Department of Labor
  • Ed Castile, AIDT
  • Tim McCartney, Alabama Workforce Council
  • Josh Laney, Alabama Office of Apprenticeship

Breakout sessions allowed selected programs to share their best practices. Two North Alabama programs were selected to present during the breakout classes:

Day 2 of the summit featured a breakfast with Governor Kay Ivey where she awarded the Governor’s Seal of Excellence to four programs within the state of Alabama. From North Alabama, Northwest-Shoals Community College’s POWER 5 HVAC Registered Apprenticeship program received this highest honor.

Northwest-Shoals Community College’s POWER 5 was the first competency-based HVAC apprenticeship program in Alabama. It was designed to address the industry’s immediate need for highly-skilled, professionally trained HVAC technicians. In the first year, the program experienced tremendous growth. NWSCC’s HVAC program’s enrollment increased by 72% in one year.

The flexibility of the program gives students previously disconnected from post-secondary education an opportunity to start or continue their education while earning a livable wage. POWER 5 participating employers compensate apprentices according to the wage progression schedule that rewards students for demonstrating mastery of skills and competencies. Apprentices range from 18 to 60 years old.

During the transition to remote work and learning due to the COVID 19 pandemic, no POWER 5 apprentice lost any work opportunities. When one sponsoring business closed permanently, other businesses offered to hire the affected apprentices. The NWSCC instructor utilized FaceTime, video chat platforms, and messaging applications to observe students in the field and provide instant feedback while students completed installation and repair calls.

The POWER 5 program also collaborates with NWSCC’s Adult Education and Youth Success programs to educate and train potential candidates for the apprenticeship. The program recruits students who dual enroll in HVAC and MSSC classes. Five students have entered through this pathway.

The program combines on-the-job learning as reinforcement of classroom instruction. A student can earn wages while receiving mentoring, professional skills training, integrated math and english, and nationally recognized credentials. (See the POWER 5 presentation: Powerpoint or PDF)

Additional Seal of Excellence honorees were Hope Inspired Ministries’ Employability Skill Training program, Gadsden City School’s Beautiful Rainbow Cafe, and the University of West Alabama’s Integrated Marketing Communications program.