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Former FPTC Director joins Wallace Community College

Staff Feature

WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTY  – Imagine being able to train for a new skill and earn while you learn. Thanks to Wallace Community College-Dothan’s (WCCD) commitment to apprenticeships, that possibility is an open door to skills training in an employer-driven field.

Martha Compton, former director of Florida Panhandle Technical College, is bringing her commitment to children's excellence to Wallace Community College.  Compton is joining WCCD as the College’s new Business and Industry Coordinator, after retiring from FPTC in November, serving for over 30 years in Washington County school District.

The College said Compton has strong beliefs about the opportunities that apprenticeships offer.

“I am excited to be working with business and industry through Wallace Community College,” Compton said. “There are many benefits for students enrolled in Apprenticeship programs, but the most prevailing one is earning a paycheck while learning a trade.”

Martha Compton

Compton’s experience in workforce development and apprenticeships includes 10 years as the director of Florida Panhandle Technical College in Chipley, Florida. She is ready to apply that experience to the Wiregrass.

A key component of apprenticeship success are business partnerships. “The College believes that partnering with area business and industries to create apprenticeship opportunities is crucial for developing a skilled workforce,” said Dr. Linda Young, WCCD president. “Apprenticeships help our students gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their chosen careers, and they provide employers with a continuous pipeline of highly trained workers.”

The apprenticeship program is designed to start apprentices at entry level wages and to increase hourly rates of pay throughout their training, based on performance. Student benefits include:

·         Salary - Apprentices are paid employees

·         Career Exploration - Opportunity to explore careers and passions

·         On-the-Job Training - Structured learning in a work setting

·         College Education – Higher education opportunities with little or debt

·         Classroom Learning - Job-related skills through education in a classroom setting

·         Mentorship - Support of a skilled worker to assist and enhance critical hands-on learning

·         Credentials - Portable, nationally-recognized credential upon completion, along with state and nationally recognized industry certifications and licensures

Apprenticeships are increasing supported by manufacturers and educators, working in partnership to fill positions with workers trained in needed skillsets. WCCD received an apprenticeship grant through the Alabama Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program (ALAMAP) Project from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to help grow the program. 

“These business-specific objectives ensure that each participant receives the skills to thrive in a highly competitive work environment, all while earning nationally recognized credentials. Ultimately, participants have the opportunity to earn while they learn which is a huge benefit for the student and employer,” said Joe Johnson, Wallace director of workforce development.

WCCD works with individual businesses and employers to design specific training programs for employers – an added value to the program. Compton’s experience will be crucial in achieving these goals. “We are excited to have Ms. Compton join our Wallace family.  Her knowledge and extensive experience will certainly help our institution provide additional opportunities that will strengthen the success of our students and area communities,” said Leslie Reeder, WCCD dean, instructional affairs.

To promote apprenticeship training, the Alabama Apprenticeship Tax Credit was created by Alabama Act No. 2016-314, which is known as the Apprenticeship Tax Credit Act of 2016 (the “ATC Act”). The primary purpose of the ATC Act was to provide a tax credit for employers that employ an apprentice.

Through the Apprenticeship program, employers are able to:

·         Recruit and develop a highly-skilled workforce

·         Improve productivity, profitability, and the bottom line

·         Create flexible training options that ensure the right skills

·         Minimize liability costs through appropriate training

·         Receive tax credits and employee tuition benefits

·         Increase retention of skilled workers

·         Create opportunity for new employees to work mentors

WCCD is a Registered Apprenticeship Program Sponsor, a program validated by the U.S. Department of Labor and supported by the Alabama Community College System. The interest in apprenticeships is surging as a way to address the lack of a skilled workforce and retirement of experienced employees.

The program requires collaboration with Chamber members, workforce boards, employment offices, local governments, economic developers, school systems and employers, which is key to keeping abreast of current and emerging workforce needs.

“The ultimate goal of education is to spark a pursuit of knowledge and gain skills for the perfect career. The apprenticeship may involve an individual who never expected to have any experience with higher education,” said Compton. “Participating in college coursework and training is a plus for their resume and confidence.”

According to Dr. Bill Sellers, associate dean, career technical division, “An apprentice obtains increased knowledge that meets industry standards, tailored to the specific needs of businesses, resulting in highly-skilled employees.  They receive a paycheck that is guaranteed to increase as training progresses while earning a nationally-recognized portable credential.  The end result is a win-win for both the apprentice and the business.”  It’s a career path worth looking in to.

For more information on Wallace’s Apprenticeship Program, contact Martha Compton (mcompton@wallace.edu) or Amber Dunlap (adunlap@wallace.edu).