NATCHITOCHES – Seven students signed commitments Tuesday to announce their intent to participate in the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, a work/study partnership between Northwestern State University, the Central Louisiana Technical Community College – Natchitoches and sponsoring manufacturing companies in the region. NSU and CLTCC hosted the program to recognize the students who are in the program’s second cohort.
Students in the AMT program work three days per week in one of the sponsoring manufacturing facilities earning $12 per hour and take classes two days per week that are taught by NSU and CLTCC faculty. Upon completion of the two-year program, graduates receive an AMT certificate, as well as an associate degree in engineering technology from NSU that is applicable to a bachelor’s degree should the student wish to continue studies. Completers also have earned valuable hands-on work experience and a competitive edge over their peers, administrators said.
This year’s cohort and their industry sponsors include Randy Garza of Franklinton, Alliance Compressors; Kyle Ashley of Fort Polk and Christopher Robertson of Zwolle, Boise Cascade; Alan Crowder of Plainview, Liam Lutz of Pineville and Joseu Urbana of Logansport, RoyOMartin, and Reid Cobbs of Belmont, Stella-Jones.
The industry/education partnership “creates a strong workforce for local manufacturers,” said Laurie Morrow, CLTCC Natchitoches campus dean.
“This is exciting because we are changing the face of workforce development, not only in northwest Louisiana but in the state,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “What we have here today is opportunity for students and a new way of learning, opportunities for partnerships for NSU, CLTCC and business and industry to come together and build a program and develop an educated workforce.”
Administrators predict the AMT program will continue to grow and said the local pilot is becoming a model for the state. Professors, teachers, community members and families of the signees attended the ceremony, as did three students from the first AMT cohort, who are currently half-way through the program. The AMT program is supported by the Natchitoches Community Alliance, an economic/workforce development group. Partnering companies also include Pilgrim’s, P&G and AFCO Industries.
“This was an idea on the drawing board 16 months ago,” said Jimmy Sawtelle, CLTCC chancellor. “It’s a long-term investment that will have a great yield. Our focus is to keep this at the forefront and grow the program not only here but other parts of the state.”
Natchitoches Community Alliance Executive Director Tony Davis said the AMT students are part of the Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME), the program’s national umbrella, locally established as GeauxFAME. GeauxFAME is the first and only chapter in Louisiana, joining 10 other states in FAME USA, which seeks to develop technical talent for manufacturing employers of technical workers.
“We want to make this a very strong program that will change the look and scope of workforce development,” Davis said.
Sen. Gerald Long explained that when business and industry seek help in relocating to Louisiana, they look for quality in schools and a prepared workforce.
“Seventy percent of jobs in the next 10 years will require a highly-skilled workforce. This is a collaboration between all parts of the community and will make this part of our state competitive,” Long said.
Spots are still available in the 2018 AMT cohort for qualifying students, Davis said. Information on the AMT program is available at https://nca-la.com/workforce-ready/amt.