North AlabamaWorks partners with Cullman school systems for Modern Manufacturing program

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Cullman County Economic Development Director Matt Kinsland, North AlabamaWorks Director Stephanie McCulloch, North AlabamaWorks Modern Manufacturing Project Manager Billy Troutman, Cullman Area Technology Academy Principal Susan Patrick, Cullman City Schools Career and Technical Education Coordinator Lindsay Brannon, Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer, Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette and Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff were all on hand Wednesday, March 20, as North AlabamaWorks announced its partnership with the two school systems to develop a new Modern Manufacturing program. (Janet Chandler)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The modern manufacturing industry has been on an upward trend in the past decade; new automakers such as Honda, Hyundai and Toyota have all joined the Alabama automotive manufacturing industry. North AlabamaWorks has been tracking those trending numbers and has decided to lend a hand in expanding and educating the upcoming workforce that will make those industries boom.

At a press conference held Wednesday, March 20, at the Cullman Economic Development Agency, school and local officials were on hand as North AlabamaWorks Modern Manufacturing Project Manager Billy Troutman announced an exciting new partnership between North AlabamaWorks, Cullman City Schools and Cullman County Schools. A new Modern Manufacturing program will be offered to local high school students as soon as the fall of 2024.

North AlabamaWorks Director Stephanie McCulloch explained, “The program can be applied in traditional high school career technical programs or dual enrollment programs through (the) ACCS (Alabama Community College System). Participants will learn basic employability skills, safety, technical skills, etc.  The program includes instruction in machine operations, production line operations, systems analysis, instrumentation, physical controls, automation, manufacturing planning, quality control and informational infrastructure. All manufacturers will benefit as these students will be eligible and ready for hire once they have completed the program.”

Cullman County Schools will adapt one of its current programs housed at the Cullman Area Technology Academy (CATA) to accommodate the new program; the Industrial Maintenance program will be integrated into and essentially transformed into the Modern Manufacturing program.

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette shared his excitement and said, “I am super excited for this opportunity for our students. We already had a similar program but by changing the name and adding the additional curriculum it will allow our students the opportunity to earn additional credentials and in turn allow them to be better prepared for the workforce. We are always looking for new opportunities and pathways for our students.”

Cullman City Schools has committed to constructing a new wing on the campus of Cullman High School to accommodate its career technical education classes, with a hopeful completion date of summer 2025, just prior to the program’s introduction at CHS.

“We are thrilled to partner with North AlabamaWorks to launch a Modern Manufacturing career tech program at Cullman High School. The launch of this program comes at a time of increasing demand for skilled manufacturing professionals locally and in our region. By providing students with industry-relevant skills and real-world experience, we are empowering students to pursue rewarding career paths and contribute meaningfully to our economy,” said Cullman City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff. “With the addition of the new 28,070-square-foot CTE wing on the campus of Cullman High School, students enrolled in the Modern Manufacturing program will have access to a  5,040-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technology and machinery. This partnership is a testament to our commitment to providing Cullman City (Schools) students with diverse education pathways that align with the evolving needs of the workforce.”

New programs like these benefit the community, but they can be costly. For local public schools, cost can be a factor in the decision to add new certification courses. North AlabamaWorks is so confident in its program and the benefits it can offer students and the economy that it is pledging to assist with costs and fund the necessary requirements for a successful program.

Said Troutman, “We use our partnerships and industry connections to attract more industry. We also offer teacher training and professional development. The big thing is that we are able to help financially; there are commitments from the regional workforce councils that can help. So, it’s not just someone cheering you on; we actually help out on the financial side as well, so that’s great.”

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