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Thu, Sept. 19

Yavapai College announces skilled trades center task force

Valley Academy Superintendent Bob Weir said that though he would like for the Verde Valley to have a skilled trades center as a “replica of the Prescott CTEC center, we do not need, at this time, that large of a facility.” Photo Courtesy Les Stukenberg/Prescott Daily Courier

Valley Academy Superintendent Bob Weir said that though he would like for the Verde Valley to have a skilled trades center as a “replica of the Prescott CTEC center, we do not need, at this time, that large of a facility.” Photo Courtesy Les Stukenberg/Prescott Daily Courier

Yavapai College skilled trades center task force

Kerry Barrett, CTI, Inc.

John Bassous, Tierra Verde Builders

Dennis Dearden, superintendent, Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District

Clint Ewell, Yavapai College vice president for finance and administrative services

Norela Harrington, Bent River Machine, Inc.

Richard Hernandez, Yavapai College director for regional economic development center

Danny Howe, administrator-in-charge, Camp Verde Unified School District

Tom Hughes, Yavapai College director for institutional effectiveness and research

Bill Jackson, Jackson/Kinsi Constructors

Rodney Jenkins, Yavapai College vice president for community relations

Bill Jump, Out of Africa

Vince Lansink, Vince’s Auto Body

Ron Liss, Yavapai College vice president for instruction and student development

Linda Martinez, Shrader and Martinez Construction

Ignacio Mesa, Clear Creek Vineyard and Winery

John Morgan, Yavapai College dean for career and technical education

James Perey, Yavapai College executive dean and campus executive officer for Verde Valley campus

Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, Alcora Marble

Lisa Rhine, Yavapai College president

Jane Russell-Winiecki, Yavapai-Apache Nation

Diane Ryan, Yavapai College vice president of strategic initiatives

Bob Weir, superintendent, Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education

Mike Westcott, superintendent, Mingus Union High School District

CLARKDALE – Verde Valley community members told Yavapai College’s district governing board in April that they want a dedicated career and technical education facility.

The college has officially agreed to have that conversation, as it announced its skilled trades center task force.

The task force is a group of community members who will help the college review current economic, educational and workforce data, said James Perey, executive dean and campus executive officer for Yavapai College’s Verde Valley campus.

With seven meetings scheduled through March 2020, the committee first met on Aug. 23 to discuss the structure of a skilled trades center.

The committee is made up of 23 members. Nine of the representatives come from Yavapai College, including Perey, President Lisa Rhine, Vice President for Instruction and Student Development Ron Liss and Vice President for Community Relations Rodney Jenkins.

Community members include local business owners, school superintendents and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Logic model

Rhine explained in a skilled trades center logic model that a “misaligned focus on four-year degrees as the pathway to the middle class [has] left skilled trade industries struggling to find qualified entry level workers, while also facing the aging-out of experienced workers.”

“Indicators that almost half of Bachelor’s degree holders are underemployed or unemployed call for an economic and social imperative that requires the college, K-12 systems, industry and community leaders to seek solutions that increase opportunity for skilled trades training aligned with industry need that lead to high demand, living wage jobs,” the model stated.

The logic model is broken into two categories and several subcategories. The logic model considers who a skills trade center would serve, what it would offer, who has a say-so in the center’s offerings, and how the program would benefit the community.

Task force member Mike Westcott said it will take research to determine what the center should offer.

“What are the needs? What jobs will exist that we can only currently anticipate? The trade center’s offerings should be responsive to those questions,” said Westcott. “The planning phase should focus on creating a skilled workforce for our area and beyond, and perhaps in anticipation of future forms of local employment.”

Amazing jobs ‘not being filled’

Task force member Norela Harrington was involved with the creation of Prescott’s CTEC – the Career and Technical Education Center.

As president of Bent River Machine, Inc. in Clarkdale, Harrington said she is “intimately aware of amazing jobs that are available in our area and not being filled.”

“There is huge potential for a well thought out, marketed, and heavily integrated with internships skill center helping to provide economic based jobs for our residents and a viable workforce for our businesses,” Harrington said. “Helping to craft a program that truly is a bridge for all economic and challenging backgrounds into learning a trade or skill and earning a living wage would be tremendously rewarding for me.”

As superintendent of Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education – VACTE – Bob Weir said that though “it would be great to be a replica of the Prescott CTEC center, we do not need, at this time, that large of a facility.”

“VACTE believes a 30,000- to 50,000-square-foot facility would be great where we can teach the needed career and technical education programs for our community needs and the students’ needs,” said Weir, also a task force member.

Weir said he would like to see that building shared by Yavapai College and Valley Academy’s central campus programs.

Not mutually exclusive

College may not be the answer to everyone’s question on how to make a living. But skilled trades and college certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, said Dennis Dearden, superintendent at Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District.

“Many professional fields combine practical experience with degreed study,” Dearden said. “Post-secondary education is pretty fluid and varied with today’s technology.”

A skilled trades center, Dearden said, would “complement online options and potentially give new energy and direction to current CTE programs.”

“Because the task force includes community input and economic analysis of community needs, it is tailored training and education,” Dearden said. “Targeting local job opportunity is an exciting strategy. It will be motivating and tangible for students.”

Yavapai College ‘responsive’

Linda Martinez of Shrader and Martinez Construction said that her Sedona business has found that Yavapai College “has been responsive to offer courses and programs that the community requests.”

“They need to know that the trade program will be supported by businesses, the community, and the students,” Martinez said. “Perhaps high schools are already doing this, but internships to explore skilled trades could foster more options for students.”

Martinez said that as a community, “we need to avoid the stigma of not choosing college right out of high school.”

Our company has a young commercial construction project manager who oversees multiple commercial projects,” Martinez said. “He worked with his contractor father from a young age. In the summer of his junior year, he renovated an entire house and knew five trades by the time he graduated high school. After high school, he started and ran his own concrete company, operated excavation equipment, and renovated many homes. He has been pleased with his success and career choices.”

In their own words: Members of Yavapai College’s skilled trades center task force talk career and technical education

“Success is not measured by a college degree. If you can train for a job and be successful in doing the job, which ultimately provides for your needs and at the same time the needs of an employer, you become a productive citizen, giving to your community while at the same time receiving.”

-- John Bassous, Tierra Verde Builders

A skilled trades center “should reflect the community’s economic needs, employment opportunities that enable graduates to stay and live in their family communities, and it should be structured in a way that makes it agile enough to change as job needs change.”

-- Dennis Dearden, superintendent, Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District

“There is huge potential for a well thought out, marketed, and heavily integrated with internships skill center helping to provide economic based jobs for our residents and a viable workforce for our businesses,” Harrington said. “Helping to craft a program that truly is a bridge for all economic and challenging backgrounds into learning a trade or skill and earning a living wage would be tremendously rewarding for me.”

-- Norela Harrington, Bent River Machine, Inc.

“To the best of their ability, the skilled trades center needs to offer all construction trades and work skills for nonskilled trades. Offering courses that can transfer to NAU’s Construction Management program would prepare students for managing projects and businesses. The center should include internships for practical experience and ensure that students are skilled on the computer. Also, teach good work ethics and behavior. What does it mean to guarantee your work? To go the extra mile for your client? Include some training on formulating a business plan and basic budgeting.”

-- Linda Martinez, Shrader and Martinez Construction

“Just because [students] attend a program in the center does not mean they will not seek higher education. It is for both a step to higher educational degrees and a step for certifications so they can be a productive citizen and workforce person.”

-- Bob Weir, superintendent, Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education

“I hope that the skilled trades center contributes to the role the [Yavapai College] Verde Campus has been for many of us as a unique opportunity to remain local, obtain career and college-readiness training, and represent a viable and economic alternative to leaving the area.”

-- Mike Westcott, superintendent, Mingus Union High School District

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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