MARIETTA - The Washington County Career Center Adult Technical Training program is training the next generation of heavy equipment systems maintenance technicians with the Caterpillar training curriculum.
The program consists of classroom and hands on training. This high-demand career field is one of the few trades that cross over into many different industries.
"Since the inception of Adult Technical Training our strength has been working closely with area employers," Director David Combs said. "They assist us in identifying training needs, we work together in developing a curriculum that covers the need that gives both their current and future employees the skills they require to become proficient in that career field. We identify individuals that are or have been leaders in the industry to actively train our students in a hands on environment. This proactive approach to training has provided the area with thousands of skilled workers over the years."
By using this approach Adult Technical Training identified and began preparing for shortages in the industry for Heavy Equipment Technicians. According to the Department of Labor, there will be 52,500 projected job openings in the United States between 2010-2020 with a median wage of $22.14 hour.
The first class began March 31 with seven students. Due to the hands-on nature of the training, it is critical that class size is limited, this allows the student one-on-one time with the instructor and equipment.
"What you are seeing is an influx of oil and gas work in the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia area," Blake McKinney, heavy equipment systems maintenance program senior instructor, said. "The school began a Heavy Equipment Operator program in March of 2012, with almost all graduates being hired immediately upon graduation."
Companies need employees to safely and efficiently operate the equipment and has the skills to work on the equipment for break downs and routine maintenance, he said.
"If you like technology, working with your hands, being outdoors and are interested in big machines then you should consider a career as a heavy equipment entry level technician," he said.
John Moore, industrial programs coordinator further, said the program will have a focus on heavy equipment systems. The student will learn how the system works both on paper and in the field, he said.
"Once they have that knowledge the next step will be teaching them how to troubleshoot a problem, based on what they have learned about how the system works," he said.
Areas of focus in the training include engines, transmissions, hydraulics and electrical. Tasks a heavy equipment mechanic would be asked to do include troubleshooting, repair and replace worn or damaged parts, dismantle and reassemble heavy equipment, operate and inspect equipment to diagnose defects, clean, lubricate and perform other routine maintenance on equipment.