The Houston County Career Academy (HCCA), Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division have expanded opportunities for students throughout Houston County by introducing an industrial maintenance program. The program – a first for Houston County and potential model for other areas around the country – addresses local workforce needs by connecting students with technical training and employment opportunities within the community.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our students and community,” said Sabrina Phelps, principal at HCCA. “Our district is thrilled to work with Frito-Lay and CGTC to collaborate on this initiative to grow our own workforce by aligning our students’ training with industry needs. This workforce development effort with Frito-Lay and CGTC will meet local employment needs and also be a model for the state and nation.”
In Houston County and throughout Central Georgia, demand for industrial maintenance mechanics is alarmingly high. At the same time, the area faces a shortage of highly skilled workers. The same is true nationally, where nearly three-and-a-half million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed in the next decade, and two million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled due to the shortage of skilled labor.
“At Frito-Lay, our business – and the way we do business – continues to transform. Ensuring we have highly skilled, qualified mechanics in place to manage the technical aspects of our operations is critical,” said Gregg Roden, senior vice president of supply chain at Frito-Lay. “Innovative staffing solutions like the HCCA Industrial Maintenance program in Perry, Ga. will help ensure we have a pipeline of talent to fill high-tech roles now and in the future, while giving students a career path to ensure their future success.”
Through the HCCA Industrial Maintenance program, junior- and senior-level students will receive elective high school credits, as well as college credits from CGTC for learning basic engineering and maintenance skills. These skills will prepare students for entry-level employment in manufacturing roles upon graduating from high school. This includes an opportunity to train with industrial mechanics; learn how to repair, troubleshoot and maintain automated equipment; and get hands-on experience in hydraulics, machine alignment, electricity and mechanical fundamentals.
Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to interview for Frito-Lay’s apprenticeship program, which pairs entry-level associates with mentors at Frito-Lay’s Perry, Ga. facility for on-the-job training while they work to complete their associate’s degrees.
Enrollment for the HCCA Industrial Maintenance program began in late 2016 and continues through April, 2017. Coursework begins in fall, 2017. More information is available at www.hcca.hcbe.net.