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With unemployment at a 17-year low, U.S. employers find it increasingly difficult to find skilled craft workers with the technical know-how to do a good job and, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the labor shortage is going away anytime soon. 

So, how do companies tackle the issue? Some contractors are partnering with local colleges to encourage young people to develop the skills the construction industry desperately needs.

Case Study

Temporary power and temperature control company Aggreko recently partnered with San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, to host SelecTech, the company’s accredited technician training program. The program enables Aggreko to develop skilled power, cooling, heating and air services professionals.

Aggreko’s SelecTech technician training program offers students a 12-month, 42-credit-course program that combines classroom instruction with web-based learning modules and on-the-job training at Aggreko's Pearland Service Center located outside of Houston. SelecTech program courses include electrical controls, power generation, preventive maintenance, refrigeration and compressed air mechanics.

Led by Aggreko teams in collaboration with San Jacinto College faculty to develop students with technical competence, the SelecTech program exposes students to all aspects of field operations, specifically how to provide power, cooling, heating and air services for everything from disaster relief operations to industrial work and special events. Students also learn about other aspects of the business such as sales and logistics.

After completion, graduates receive a Certificate of Technology in heavy diesel power with the possibility of employment with Aggreko. Graduates also earn a universal Environmental Protection Agency certification, CPR and first aid certification, as well as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, known as TWIC. If a student wishes to continue his or her education, there is an opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree from San Jacinto College.

This fall, roughly 20 students enrolled at San Jacinto College in the SelecTech program, producing the program’s 10th class of Aggreko-trained technicians. SelecTech has played an integral role in training technical staff since its inauguration in 2008 in Oklahoma. To date, the program has resulted in more than 100 graduates and helps Aggreko provide expert specialty rental services.

Benefits of Entering the Skilled Trades

In addition to training, Aggreko works to create awareness among young people of the opportunities available as a craft worker. For some high school graduates, a technical vocation is a better fit for them. It is more affordable than a four-year college education, requires less time to earn a degree and appeals to those not interested in desk jobs.

According to the latest news reports, there are more than 44 million Americans with $1.3 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S. The average student today has $37,172 in student loan debt. The cost of the SelecTech program is a fraction of a four-year degree because Aggreko offers scholarships and provides tools to its SelecTech program students.

In addition to the cost and time advantages, students earn a living quickly after completion of the one-year SelecTech program, with the possibility of immediate employment with Aggreko. Aggreko offers program graduates a career expected to be in demand, competitive salaries and retirement, health care and other benefits many craft workers do not find from employers.

Regrettably, many high school students are uninformed about the technical vocation options available to them after graduation. Industry representatives help to tell young people, as well as partner with reputable higher education organizations, to provide opportunities like the SelecTech program, as the need for highly skilled craft workers continues to increase.

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