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PCC sees future in trade certificate courses


Welding is one of four skills people can train in and receive a certification from Pitt Community College.


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Short courses at Pitt Community College are having long-term benefits for new employees and businesses, administrators said.

PCC is seeing growing interest in its trade certification programs and is working to expand its offerings, Kristin Braswell, dean of continuing education and workforce development, said during Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Business have a growing need for workers who are certified in a variety of technical skills such as welding and framing, said Jerry Jones, director of business and industry. The certificate courses allow workers to obtain certification without earning an associate’s degree.

This fall PCC offered three basic electrical certificate courses which had 38 students, two types of welding courses that drew 30 students, and one basic framing course that drew 17 students.

The courses range from 48-75 hours taken over several weeks, versus the 16-week semester.

Tuition for the classes can be high, pricing out some students. Basic electrical, framing and HVAC certificate programs is $130; welding is $185, Nichols said. 

Starting with the fall 2018 semester, however, the certificate programs for basic electrical, welding, basic framing and HVAC will be reclassified as occupational extension courses, Jones said. 

The change means students will be counted as full-time equivalent enrollees and the state will provide PCC more funding which makes student tuition more affordable, Jones said.

PCC also plans to add more short-term training programs in 2019, Jones said.

There will be two sessions of Project Skill-up, a courses that teach skills for advanced manufacturing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, this spring. There also is a tentative plan to begin a commercial driver’s license training program in March, Jones said.

PCC had more than 130 people attend an informational session held earlier this month, he said, and they are still getting emails and telephone calls from interested individuals. There also will be sessions in OSHA 10 and Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt, both industry training programs, in the spring.

Work is underway on offering a bio-works certificate program in the fall, Jones said.

There also is discussion about offering certification in heavy equipment operations, plumbing, masonry and lineman skills.

Officials with Greenville Utilities Commission have said they expect large numbers of linemen will begin retiring starting in the next three to four years, Jones said. Planning ahead is the best thing any industry can do if it knows it’s going to lose a large number of workers, he said.

Many of the students this fall were Spanish speakers, and PCC employed interpreters in the basic electric and welding classes while the basic framing instructor was bilingual.

“We are desperately trying to find instructors who are bilingual,” said Gail Nichols, coordinator of entrepreneurial education. People whose first language is Spanish is a work pool employers want to hire.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.