Alabama National Guard meets with state leaders and educators about future facilities partnerships
MONTGOMERY, AL (09/12/2017) (readMedia)-- The Alabama Army National Guard's Construction and Facilities Management Office recently participated in a meeting at the Academy of Craft Training and Alabama Workforce Training Center, Birmingham, Alabama. State government, education, and business leaders from across the state were present to discuss how future Alabama National Guard facilities can be dual-construction, integrated, shared-space facilities which benefit the whole community while still serving the mission of the Guard.
The Academy of Craft Training is a Public-Private partnership between the construction industry and the Alabama State Department of Education's Career Technical Education (CTE) program. A part of CTEs mission is to recruit, educate and guide high school students for educational and employment opportunities in the construction industry. Approximately 30 percent of students who graduate from high school do not attend college and have neither academic nor job skills. The goal of the Academy of Craft Training is to help these students get the education and skills they need to be entry-level, skilled workers in the construction industry. Using the simulated workplace at the Alabama Workforce Training Center, students receive National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) construction-related training in building construction, masonry, HVAC/plumbing, welding and electrical.
"Working partnerships is a big opportunity for us to bring men and women into the Guard," said Eric Gerritson, economic development specialist for the Alabama National Guard, emphasizing that partnerships are a large part of the Alabama Guard's recruiting efforts. Facilities partnerships are emerging as a trend in National Guard organizations across the country, said Gerritson.
"These partnerships provide first-class, brand-new facilities that turn out students that are ready to work," said Katherine Lynn, director, Alabama Building Commission and Assistant Finance Director for the state.
"One important benefit of having a National Guard facility in an area is increased higher education funds for residents who take advantage of Guard employment opportunities", Gerritson highlighted. Soldiers and Airmen in the Alabama National Guard are eligible to receive thousands of dollars a semester toward a degree or certification as soon as they complete basic training under the new enhanced Alabama National Guard Education Assistance Program, recently passed by the Alabama Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey.
"If you hire a Soldier or Airman, we've trained them to be on-time. They're going to be drug-free, and a productive employee from day-one!" said Gerritson of the value of hiring Guardsmen into the local workforce. That's in addition to their job-specific skills on which the military trains each Soldier and Airman.
Gerritson highlighted the Alabama Guard's partnership with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency as an example of the success of partnerships with other state agencies. He mentioned the facilities that the Guard and ALEA share in Troy and Selma, which annually saves the state over one hundred thousand dollars in lease and maintenance overhead for both agencies.
The Alabama Army National Guard's Construction and Facility Management Office is holding several community coordination meetings throughout the state to identify, inform municipal leaders about the benefits of partnering with the Guard. "These meetings provide an opportunity for the Alabama Army National Guard to explore design, planning considerations, and potential partner relationships with the local community," said Col Philip Clayton, Construction and Facilities Management Officer with the Alabama Army National Guard. By visiting with the Academy of Craft Training and Alabama Workforce Training Center, opportunities may develop in the future to mirror this program in new facility planning and construction in other areas of the state.
Photo #2: Lt. Col. Brad Benton, commander, 22nd Recruiting and Retention Battalion, discusses Alabama Army National Guard opportunitues with Linda Poindexter, school counselor for the Academy of Craft Training.
Photo #3: Mark McCord of the Academy of Craft Training discusses the training conducted at the facility with Katherine Lynn, director, Alabama Building Commission and Assistant State Finance Director, Eric Gerritson, economic development specialist for the Alabama National Guard, and Lt. Col Josh Cloud, plans, programs & environmental division chief for the Alabama National Guard.