FCCTC celebrates workforce developmentPublished 10:09am Monday, September 24, 2012
BELGREEN – In a time where the economy is less than sub-par and jobs are a valued commodity, there is much emphasis placed on the industries Franklin County has and the ones the county hopes to attract that would provide more jobs and stable incomes.
An important key in obtaining industry and better jobs is adequate workforce development and, believe it or not, a “workforce development” center exists right in the middle of Franklin County – and it serves the county’s high school students.
This month, the Franklin County Career Technical Center (FCCTC), which is part of the Franklin County School System, is celebrating Workforce Development Month since that’s what they’re all about.
One program the center is proud to offer to the county’s youth is the welding program, which is actually a dual enrollment class where students can receive both high school credit and college credit through Northwest Shoals Community College.
The center’s welding instructor, Jim Hulsizer, who retired after 35 years in the welding business with Reynolds, said he knows the benefits of a welding program like the one offered at FCCTC.
“The first welding class I ever took was through my school’s ag department and it’s what got me started in a career I had all my life,” Hulsizer said.
“The students in my program are learning valuable skills and information that will help them get ahead in the future and be more prepared for their own careers.”
Hulsizer said he started out as a welder and then moved on to a supervisor, a general foreman and a certified welding inspector before deciding to retire.
When he realized retirement wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be and got the itch to get back around the trade he’d been around most of his life, he said he found his niche as a welding instructor.
“I’ve taught welding before in other environment but this is my first time to teach in a classroom setting,” he said. “It’s such a rewarding thing to see how eager these boys are to learn.
“I’ll show them what to do and they’ll watch every move I make. When they finally figure out how to do it on their own, it’s like watching them open up a present at Christmas.
“They’re excited and proud and it doesn’t get any better than to see them enjoying something that could make them a living and support them for the rest of their lives.”
Hulsizer said the students in the welding program are 10th, 11th and 12th graders from Belgreen, Phil Campbell, Tharptown and Red Bay high schools.
They learn all the basics of welding, safety procedures in the welding shop, how to operate the machinery and technology and different welding procedures.
“They won’t necessarily be ready for an entry-level job when they graduate high school but they will only lack a few courses at Northwest’s program to be completely ready,” Hulsizer said. “That’s a huge advantage to someone who wasn’t given this type of an opportunity in high school and ultimately makes Franklin County students more prepared for life after school.”
Israel Reza, a junior at Belgreen, is currently in his first year of the program.
“Welding is what I want to do so this is preparing me for my future,” he said.
Christ Bogus, a senior at Belgreen and second-year welding student, agreed.
“This course prepares you for the outside world,” he said. “When you get done, you’ll have a lot of experience for life after graduation.”
But the program isn’t strictly for students who are aspiring to welding careers.
Will Barnwell, a junior at Belgreen, is taking the course as a fall-back to other career plans.
“Even if I don’t end up being a welder, I feel like I have learned certain life skills that will help me later on in life,” he said.
In addition to the welding program, the FCCTC offers five other programs including building construction technology, business education, collision repair technology, healthcare science and power equipment technology.
Herbert Trulove, director of the FCCTC, said the advantages to career technical education are numerous, and workforce development is just one of those advantages.
“About 65 to 70 percent of the students in Alabama will wind up pursuing career technical jobs,” Trulove said. “We are dedicated to giving the students in our county the best resources we can to prepare them for their future.”