Thanks to the close working relationship between Athens ISD and Trinity Valley Community College, students will have yet another opportunity to acquire skills to put to use in a high-demand field.
The two educational institutions joined forces last year to win a grant through the Texas Workforce Commission. That grant, worth just over $332,000, makes it possible to purchase training equipment and offer an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) class beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The class will be taught in a brand new building at Athens High School and offer students a chance to become licensed HVAC technicians.
“It’s exciting to be able to provide students with another opportunity to get an industry certification where they can immediately go out and make money, “ said Ward Wilbanks, Career and Technology Education Director at Athens High School.
“We’re very excited … to provide our communities with a steady workforce for this service industry,” said David McAnally, Associate VP of Workforce Education at TVCC.
The Texas Workforce Commission projects a 20 percent increase in employment opportunities for heating and air mechanics and installers between 2016 and 2026. McAnally noted that in addition to high school students taking courses during the day, the plan is that adults will be able to take courses at night and during the summer to complete HVAC training programs as well. Students at Athens High School who take the course will also receive college credit through TVCC.
“The simulation equipment we will be using is phenomenal,” said Wilbanks. “I don’t think people understand the training involved. … I have students who have graduated and found out we’ll be offering this and said they wished we had it earlier.”
Dr. Wendy Elmore, VP of Instruction at TVCC, said many area companies have expressed interest and support for the program. Kelley Townsend, Director of Dual Credit at the college, echoed that observation, noting that the profession has a large presence not only in our immediate geographic area, but statewide as well. “This will allow these students to earn a healthy wage anywhere they choose to in Texas,” said Townsend.
TVCC President Dr. Jerry King called the class “a win-win-win” scenario for Athens ISD, TVCC and students, adding, “TVCC is very fortunate to have a partnership with Athens ISD to collaborate together.”
For information on workforce programs at TVCC, contact McAnally at email@example.com or call 903-675-6266.