This story is one of several “Stories of Change” highlighted in a new evaluation of ARC’s POWER Initiative.
Alabama’s Ready to Work program, operated by the Alabama Community College System in cooperation with Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and with support from ARC’s POWER Initiative, provides career opportunities for individuals with limited education and employment experience by providing them with training needed to secure employment at no cost to participants.
To protect anonymity, we will call this individual A.D. Robbs. Robbs (45) is a father of six, two of which are in college, has a mortgage, and helps with the expenses and care of his aging mother. After working for almost 20 years with an asphalt company, taking multiple part-time jobs, and working overtime, Robbs was still not meeting the financial needs of his family. That’s when he decided to join the Ready to Work program at Shelton State Community College.
Robbs said the Ready to Work (RTW) program not only allowed him the opportunity to earn two certifications (Alabama Certified Workers Certificate and National Career Readiness Certificate), but the program taught him new skills and enhanced old skills. While he was impressed with all the RTW modules, the modules he enjoyed most were Communications, Technology Basics and FDIC (Personal Finance). Robbs said the Communications module refreshed his verbal and written communication skills, while the Technology Basics module gave him a better understanding of how to navigate the internet and Excel, and taught him how to develop PowerPoint Presentations.
“The Ready to Work [program] opened avenues for new employment opportunities. Now, I have a new career working in a manufacturing setting with much better benefits and more than twice the salary… This program has also inspired me to go back to school and finish my degree in Business Administration,” said Robbs. “After my wife saw how the RTW program helped elevate me to a better paying job, she decided to enroll in the program too. After she completed the program, she was able to secure a job working in manufacturing with a much higher pay [rate] and much better benefits.” Robbs has received a fulltime position at Phifer, Inc., which is a manufacturing company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
To date, 2,614 workers/trainees have been served by Alabama’s RTW program, as well as 1,624 students. 1,139 jobs have also been retained or created as a result of this program. Thanks to the RTW program, 976 students have obtained new or enhanced positions as a result of this program, as well as 2,101 workers/trainees, including Robbs.
Alabama Community College System: Hornsby Steel, Inc23
System Hornsby Steel, Inc23 is a small company in Cleveland, Alabama that manufactures applications of cured steel. Through an ARC POWER Initiative grant, the Alabama Technology Network (ATN) began to offer the company an 8-hour blueprint reading class at no cost. During the training, participants identified types of drawings and learned what is included in different types of drawings; learned the standards for types of lines used in drawings; identified dimensions in drawings; and created drawings based on a solid object. The class had 16 employees for the blueprint reading class, meaning that over half the plant was in the training class. Two ATN project engineers provided the training and shared their stories to make the information more relatable. Some received a refresher on the body of knowledge of reading blueprints, and others gained a new perspective, enhancing their roles and responsibilities on the job. The class will help many of the participants retain their current positions, and will provide additional responsibilities within the company for some. For a total impact estimated at $4,400 for the small manufacturer in Cleveland, Alabama, the president/owner David Hornsby said it best, “The blueprint reading class was just priceless.”