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Workforce Under Construction Part 3: K-12

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In 2012, the Alabama State Department of Education made a significant step in helping K-12 students get ready for careers in the construction industry when it adopted the NCCER curriculum, a standardized training and credentialing program. A revolutionary way to train students, the NCCER curriculum provides students with credentials that are tracked through NCCER’s national registry system. “This is part of our plan to help students transition to be successful,” said Alabama State Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Philip Cleveland. “We are creating a career ladder so students will have direct entry into the workplace right out of school with recognized credentials in hand.”

Not only did the school system change to NCCER, but also education leaders sought out input from the construction industry leaders to prioritize the curriculum to make sure the courses were teaching what the state’s industry needed. “We had the industry review the NCCER curriculum content based on what they felt was most needed by entry-level employees in the state,” said Myron Laurent, education specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education. “With that input we developed a whole series of courses that are NCCER based and meet the needs of students and industry. So that way, we took a serious approach based on what we could do in the high school setting with a limited amount of time with students and really focused in on what was needed.”

In addition to getting industry input for the curriculum, education leaders turned to ABC of Alabama for assistance in assessing new instructors. “NCCER strongly believes training should be a seamless process, that it should be focused and deliberate,” Laurent said. “So we reached out to ABC of Alabama for its expertise in providing NCCER technical assessments for prospective technical teachers. They have worked hand-in-hand with us to help us drive the program forward.”

Since the Department of Education began certifying instructors, there are currently 253 accredited training and education sites at high schools across the state—plus 22 at community colleges—with 533 certified instructors who are delivering NCCER-recognized curriculum. Last year alone, Alabama students successfully completed and received recognition for 25,724 NCCER module credentials. “Through the efforts of the State Department of Education and ABC of Alabama, we have basically put an umbrella of NCCER-certified teachers and facilities over the entire state of Alabama,” Laurent said. “This means we can be very proactive and accommodating to industry members who may want to talk to certified instructors in their neighborhoods that may be able to assist in providing specific training for their employees, or whatever other needs that could be met through NCCER training and education.”

Construction industry members can also help encourage the use of NCCER training with one simple change: add a statement to job applications that ask applicants to list any NCCER certifications or training they have received. “If companies would simply refer to and request NCCER training or certification on job applications, it would do a great deal in building creditability and value in the minds of our students and parents,” Laurent said. “This is just one small move that industry can make that can have a great impact on technical education.”

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