Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
The Carter County Career and Technical Center is quickly evolving to prepare students to meet the demand of today’s workforce; recently adding Heavy Equipment Operations and Pharmacy Technician career paths. They’re also using innovative virtual technology for welding students, and carpentry students have a tiny home under active construction. These initiatives aim to increase and expand high-quality workforce training programs. The hope is the implementation of these programs will provide students with the training they need to succeed.
Drew McGuire, heavy equipment operations instructor, said the new heavy equipment and CDL simulators are extremely realistic and will prepare students to enter the workforce. The new career path combines knowledge gained through coursework with the evolution of driving simulation. McGuire described the simulation systems as “groundbreaking.” Beginning junior year students start to prepare to obtain their CDLs. Seniors that are 18 years and older are eligible to take the CDL written exam. Upon passing nine modules senior students will graduate high school with a NCCER Level 1 Construction Certification.
Virtual reality welding allows beginner welders to practice and improve their skills before moving on to real life equipment. The head-mount display supplies a realistic view of the welding process, increasing practice opportunities and reducing training time. Dylan McDavid, welding instructor, noted that the two-year program focuses on the three main welding processes: stick, MIG and TIG. McDavid described the virtual reality welding simulator as a “valuable teaching tool.” Students who complete the welding program are qualified to take the Kentucky Department of Transportation Structural Welding Certification as well as the OSHA 10 Safety Certification.
Pharmacy Technician students will learn foundational skills through direct training to start a rewarding career in healthcare; this career path is a three-semester program. Jaysa Kiser, pharmacy technician instructor, said she is excited for her students to get firsthand experience through clinicals at Kings Daughter Medical Center.
“Education through experience will be rewarding for my students,” Kiser said.
After taking the American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR/First Aid certification course students will be eligible to sit for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, Kiser noted.
Veronica Flannery, pre-nursing instructor, is working closely with St. Claire Regional Medical Center and the AHEC department at Morehead State University to help students enroll in CHARGE (Creating Healthcare Advancement opportunities to promote Rural Kentucky under- Graduate nursing Excellence). CHARGE is available to juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a nursing career. Through this program students will have the opportunity to job shadow mentors, learn compassionate care skills, and be provided with resources that will help them decide a nursing pathway prior to entering a collegiate program.
Other programs are also trying new approaches within their traditional training programs.
“This project was inspired by Superintendent Green,” carpentry instructor Shawn Bocook said as he motioned toward a newly framed tiny home. “He recommended that we take on more challenging and innovative projects.”
Thirty juniors and seniors are collectively working together to complete this endeavor, allowing them to get hands-on instruction that is indispensable. Both Bocook and Dr. Green said they were incredibly pleased with the progression of the tiny home and have a couple of ideas in mind for the home upon its completion, including the possibility of renting it as an Airbnb at a local state park.
Amid crippling worker shortages, students are looking for more direct access to well-paying careers in high-growth fields, while employers are looking to expand their access to skilled workers. Students enrolled at The Career and Technical Center, the district said, are cultivating both academic and technical skills and are on track to graduate with industry-recognized skills, experience, and valuable work safety habits.
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