Cleveland Community College is establishing a program to educate students in heavy machine operation, including bulldozers, haulers, excavators, wheel loaders, and track loaders.
The institution has already spent more than half a million dollars for the purchase of two new semi-trucks and trailers for the heavy machine operator academy to be launched later this year.
According to the coordinator for the electrical lineworkers program, Alan Qualls, the school’s latest offering will ensure that students are set up with the machines for which they are best suited.
“It’s a new approach for us. It used to be we are the college, and we are going to teach what we need to, curriculum or core or whatever and if you like them you can hire them,” he told The Shelby Star. “What I am saying is if you’ll tell me what you’ll want, I’ll try to mold people to what you need. And everybody needs something different.”
Students will attend lectures and complete tasks for 10 weeks. Upon completion, they will earn a commercial driver’s license and national certification in construction.
Coping with Demand
Qualls revealed a business owner told him that even if the new program produces 50 students every 10 weeks, it will still not be enough to cope with the demand for licensed heavy machine operators around the country.
“The demand for it is out there. Blue-collar (jobs) are going downhill quickly. We can’t get young people to take them,” he explained.
The program coordinator also pointed out that the academy will not be focusing on just one field throughout the 10-week training. He said even if graduates do not want to become operators, they can still drive a truck or haul equipment as a result of the licenses they earn.
Classes for the heavy equipment operator academy will start this September. The training will take place at a 25-acre lot in Shelby.