Doors Open to New Center, Career Opportunities

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CSM Dedicates Center for Trades and Energy Training in Waldorf

            A partnership of individuals and businesses, government and non-profit organizations joined the College of Southern Maryland in bringing the new Center for Trades and Energy Training (CTET), which held its Grand Opening ceremony Sept. 24, to Southern Maryland. A new facility located on Irongate Drive in Waldorf with more than 17,000 feet of classroom and lab space, CTET will not only provide students a springboard to entering a career in the trades, but also provide four years of apprenticeship training in electrical, carpentry, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) to help meet the workforce needs of area businesses.  

            “Together we are working to provide Southern Maryland and Washington area employers with a workforce who possess the skills and attitudes to meet their company’s needs,” said CSM Board of Trustees Chair Jamie Raley. “This new facility is the launching pad for the college’s program, ‘Career Starters,’ through which we will train entry-level craft workers in electricity, welding, HVAC and carpentry.”

            To a standing-room-only crowd gathered in the center’s large welding lab, with high ceiling and dual industrial garage doors, CSM President Dr. Brad Gottfried said, “We’ve been waiting a long time for this day. We recognize our role as being a critical part of the economic development engine of this region and we know that in order for the region to prosper, it must have well-trained employees—we accept this role whole-heartedly.”

            Commissioners representing Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, representatives of federal and state officials, state workforce development agencies, sponsors, partners, local employers and the CSM Foundation were lauded by Gottfried for their support in making the dream of the Center a reality.

Maryland State Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, a CSM alum, likened the college to hockey great Wayne Gretzky who is able to quickly anticipate and get to where the puck is heading. "That’s what the College of Southern Maryland does,” Middleton said of the college’s work in anticipating workforce needs.

            The CTET was made possible by a Department of Labor Grant through the High Growth Training Initiative. CSM was one of 11 recipients selected nationally from 171 applicants to receive a $1 million grant.

Additional support of national, state and local officials will provide course materials and additional faculty. Constellation Energy is providing $150,000 to equip the welding lab and Southern Maryland Oil has donated most of the HVAC lab equipment. Financial assistance for non-credit students are provided by Marrick Properties, PNC Bank, American Community Properties Trust, scholarships established in honor of William Lyon and Joseph Hungerford Morton, and others.

The CTET will house CSM’s Career Starters construction programs. These are non-credit and provide job-specific hands-on training using a lab format program that prepares workers for entry-level positions in high-demand industries.

When Ed Harrod of Prince Frederick signed up for CSM’s electrician program, he was looking for a career that would give him advancement opportunities and security–and he knew that it would take a long-term commitment and additional training. “With this training, I will be set for the rest of my life,” Harrod said.

            Speaking at the ceremony, Harrod said that before deciding on CSM, he had looked into an automotive program with a $25,000 price tag. “So, I looked at Southern Maryland for $435.” Harrod shrugged as the audience laughed. “You do the math. Not only that, but I’m paying for it out of my pocket.  In the course of a year that’s 870 bucks, times four years. Do the math. You save almost $22,000.”

            Harrod began his studies with Electricity I, Part 1 at CSM’s Prince Frederick Campus last fall, moved onto Part 2 in the spring and landed a job in May with CECA Electrical, working at Patuxent River Naval Station.

Now in his second year of apprenticeship training, Harrod works from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then meets for his electrical apprenticeship training Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m. When Harrod completes his four years of apprenticeship training classes he will be prepared to take the journeyman license exam. He wants to then return to CSM for the master electrician exam course to obtain his master’s license.

            “This has allowed me to recover a part of my life,” said Harrod, who anticipates the day when he can sign off on the electrical work in buildings such as the CTET.

During the Grand Opening ceremony Harrod received a standing ovation from the crowd, some with tears welling up in their eyes, as he told how the college’s electrician program had transformed his life and how he hopes to one day give back to the college and the next generation of electricians.

            “I sacrificed—and I joke about this—the chocolate chip cookies and the rocky road ice cream that helped me pay for my tuition,” Harrod said. “If anybody has a vision, it’s up to you to fulfill it. Sometimes we just want to give up. But I promise you, if you take one step, somebody will help you take the next step. And that’s what this college has done for me.”

            Students such as Harrod will be needed to meet a critical labor shortage that is anticipated in this region over the next 10 years due to explosive population growth, impending retirements of baby-boomers and the expansion of green jobs.

“We are well positioned to begin offering green skills training for both building retrofitting and renewable energy, which will include training electricians to install solar panels and wind turbines,” said Gottfried. “And in partnership with the Maryland Community College Construction Consortium, we can train weatherization auditors and the crew to retrofit complexes to ensure better energy efficiency.”

As an employer in Southern Maryland in the energy industry, SMECO President Joseph Slater said that he is very excited about CSM in terms of helping train his workforce. “They’ve trained our linemen, now they’re helping our linemen move into the high tech field through the degree in lineman’s training program. They’ve helped train our workforce through supervisory and management training and now they are going to help us with some trades at a very modern and exciting facility,” Slater said.

The Career Starters Program not only provides hands-on training to students in the construction trades but also, at the college’s other locations, provides hands-on training using a lab format for students in business, healthcare, information technology, transportation and veterinarian. Early childhood and hospitality programs have a lecture format.

In addition to training, students have access to a Career Services Specialist who will provide help with resume writing, preparing for an interview and job search skills.

Acceptance into the Career Starters program does not require an entry application or academic testing, nor does it require a high school diploma for persons 18 or older. For information on Career Starters, visit http://www.csmd.edu/Training/CareerStarters/.

For information on the Center for Trades and Energy Training, visit http://www.csmd.edu/About/centers/TradesEnergyTraining/.

            For information on scholarship opportunities, visit www.csmd.edu/foundation.

            To view a video clip of Harrod’s remarks, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjnOGN_FyLY.

           

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