FSS Craft Skills Program
KHRA/Northeast State Pilot Program aimed at helping Family Self-Sufficiency participants get skills, jobs
By SHARON CASKEY HAYES
Since graduating high school nearly a decade ago, Jake Mitchell has worked construction jobs for various employers, mainly installing flooring. But the work dried up, and Jake, a 27-year-old husband and father, found himself unemployed for several months. That’s when he learned about a new craft skills class being offered by Northeast State Community College at the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
The pilot program was started through a partnership among Northeast State, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), Kingsport Housing & Redevelopment Authority, and local employers. As part of the agreement, residents in KHRA’s public housing or the housing choice voucher (Section 8) program who participate in KHRA’s Family Self-Sufficiency initiative would have the opportunity to take the class for a nominal fee, with the assurance that they would be given a job interview with a local employer if they successfully completed the course.
The Introductory to Craft Skills is designed as a non-credit continuing education course intended for job seekers who want to be competitive in the marketplace. This course introduces nine modules for building foundational construction and industrial skills. In addition, the class teaches communication skills and employability skills. The first class began in late 2013, and was held in the evenings, three nights per week, for about eight weeks. The course included classroom work as well as hands-on lab experience totaling 72.5 hours of instruction time. Students who successfully completed the course were given a registered National Center for Education and Research (NCCER) certification card and registration into the NCCER database.
Eight students successfully completed the first craft course. And Jake Mitchell was among them. Today, Mitchell is employed full-time with a local contractor, and says he appreciates being given the opportunity to succeed. He said he’d recommend the craft skills class to anybody looking for a hand up.
“It really helped me out,” said Mitchell, a resident of Riverview Place. “I was hoping to come out with a job, and that’s the way it worked out.”
Jeff McCord, vice president for Economic & Workforce Development for Northeast State Technical Community College, said he appreciates the partnership between KHRA and the college to help reach more people who need skills training to get good jobs.
“We know through our relationships with advanced manufacturing related employers that the type skills taught in the class are the ones many of them are looking for. And it is our job to help strengthen the connection between people and jobs through training and education,” McCord said.
He said it all “comes down to the desire and ability of the people in the class.”
“And seeing that desire and ability rewarded is a wonderful thing to be a small part of,” said McCord, adding Northeast State hopes to offer similar classes in the future, as well as classes in medical areas such as phlebotomy and electrocardiogram technician training.
The pilot program is an early start project for KHRA’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant. KHRA received a Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Planning Grant in October 2012 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to develop a revitalization plan for the Midtown Neighborhood, including Robert E. Lee Apartments, Gibson Mill District, Cloud Apartments, Watauga Street District, North Center Street District, White City Historic District, Sullivan-Center Street District, Radial Streets District, Park Hill Historic District, Cherokee Village, Roller Street District, and the Downtown District. The focal point of the revitalization plan is Robert E. Lee Apartments.